Thursday, December 16, 2010

‘Simpleton’ is Best!

I have a genuine affection for technology. Now I am not just referring to high end computers or fancy robo-gizmos, but the ordinary household hardware too. You know the stuff, it’s that fancy schmancy cyclonic suction vacuum, computerized toaster, or the fridge with an in-the-door internet monitor. Now just because I like the stuff does not mean I have a big enough vault to own most of these high-end appliances. Besides, I never have been a huge fan of mixing extreme vibration, cold, heat, or humidity with new-age electronics – that’s NASA’s job. When you want stuff to work – simple is best!

Now the exception to that rule is my coffee maker. Since I have never joined the ranks of the Starbucks set, my family makes sure I have a top notch computerized coffee appliance always at the ready. Actually they are less concerned with the coffee’s flavor quality as much as providing a ‘foolproof’ maker that I cannot find a way to screw up and make a mess. I have somewhat of a storied history of abusive relationships and bad break-ups with bargain-brand coffee machines.

Normal, less costly coffee makers, once switched on, simply pump hot water to a filter cup containing ground coffee and on into a decanter below. If you forget to put a cover down or slip the decanter into its slot, the machine doesn’t care – as punishment for your stupidity, it just shoots water, coffee, or grounds in any ol’ direction. My Cuisanart Grind and Brew is like a smart but stubborn mule. If I forget to put the filter hatch down, leave a grinder cover off, or neglect to seat the decanter properly, the pot will ‘beep’ incessantly in protest. The real test is to figure out what all that beeping means but usually it is obvious – the operator is a simpleton.

As much as I genuinely love my genius coffee donkey, I noted a newer and more sophisticated java brewer recently called the ‘Tassimo Brewbot’. Now the machine looks pretty nifty but I have to object to the advertising for this creepy little computerized beast. The Madison Avenue marketeers for some reason think it is a good idea to portray the coffee machine as a little humanoid robot that ejects brown liquids from its body into your favorite beverage cup! I’m not sure about you, but I don’t want robot coffee maker with a kidney infection anywhere near my morning cup of joe. I think it already ‘Sucks’ that my Dustbuster caught a cold recently and probably passed along the virus to my laptop. Yes I love my brave new world technology gadgets as long as they are healthier, less needy, and generally more SIMPLE-MINDED than me!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Witless and Wrapless

I cannot seem to get into the swing of Christmas this year. No I am not depressed or stressed over time or finances. In fact I have a pretty easy life except for that getting up out of bed and having to feed and drive myself around thing. If I could solve those last couple of issues, I could finally achieve a total slovenly existence like Santa for 364 days a year.

I guess I have reached the age where I really don’t need anything, so wandering from store to store looking for gifts is less than thrilling. I used to love looking at all the ads in the newspaper and now whenever I look at the newspaper its physically diminutive size distracts me from the pleasure of the Christmas ads. That little type in newspapers is ALREADY too small – why do they continue shrinking the newspapers?

Wrapping gifts also used to be a real treat for me. I would spend hours trying to find ways to hide goodies in unsuspecting everyday objects. I once sawed a tomato soup can in half after steaming off the label. I proceeded to scoop out the goop, fill it with a gift card, sand, and padding to the EXACT weight listed on the can, and re-glue the label. That takes a lot of work and artistry for a gift which will spend only a fraction of its life under wraps and in the food pantry.

Just to see if I could, I made a three layer postcard with the center layer cut out for a dollar bill. When the whole thing was sandwiched together, ironed and trimmed, it just looked like an ordinary postcard. I mailed it off to my family. They received it fine, but were unwilling to destroy the card to retrieve the hidden money in the interior of the card. I should have used a three layer cake instead - funny how everyone seems to tear those apart without remorse?

These days I am lucky if I even want to mess with decorative wrapping paper since I hate storing the stuff for every specialized holiday. I think it would be just easier to get some barrio taggers to spray paint all over gifts before I give them to the recipients. I recently decided that a dark RED plastic Target bag was so opaque, it would prove BETTER than any old flimsy wrapping paper. So I cut it up and dressed the Christmas booty in it. Except for my Dad’s Christmas honoraria, wrapped in crossword puzzles and funnies – I think those Target-bag wrapped gifts are sure to be better READ than anything from our scrawny rag of a newspaper!

Friday, December 3, 2010

It’s time to have THE TALK!

I did something really challenging at Thanksgiving – I made my family TALK. Yes, somehow I corralled everyone into the same stockyard and got them away from the caloric turkey-trough, computers, and TV for a few minutes of an actual honest to goodness, face to face, 'blab-fest'. Better yet, this was not some inane ‘convo’ about Black Friday deals or the annoying antics of wanna-be starlets and reality TV freaks. No this was the sizzling fresh and uncomfortably hot topic about their personal opinions on, of all things, IMMIGRATION.

Now before you light your hair on fire and run for the border in disgust with passport in hand like my family attempted, trust me, my motives were not actually political at all. You see, I recently had the opportunity to join a ‘digital media’ class taught by our local PBS television affiliate known as the ‘nineNetwork’ here in St. Louis. We met for about 15 hours a week for close to a month and the studio provided media professionals to teach our classes how to film stories and edit interviews using their HD video cameras and Apple’s ‘Final Cut’ software to edit the finished product.

The nineNetwork, is currently producing a television documentary called ‘Homeland’ which attempts to address the immigration issue from personal perspectives rather than the typical political one. If all goes well, you should see the end product on your local PBS station by Spring 2011. I’ve linked the site address HERE should you wish to piece together a new perspective on the immigration issue, or simply want to leave a ‘piece of your mind’. Regardless, all comments are encouraged and welcome as they all ultimately contribute to the overall understanding and relevancy of this much maligned topic.

While it was certainly challenging to venture out of my comfort zone to play ‘cub’ reporter / editor and interview strangers for a few weeks; I was surprised at how rewarding it was to simply sit with my own family members and talk to them too. Oh sure, we ‘jaw’ all the time just like you do with your own brood on the day’s work, weather, cars, TV etc. But rarely do we all sit around a table and look at each other ‘eye to eye’ and dare discuss controversial current events like immigration. Too much fear that somebody might take offense or judge one another poorly, especially when compounded with the stress of a holiday get-together.

Happily however, it turned into a very rewarding experience for all. It seemed that once the initial shyness of recording comments for posterity had evaporated, the group honestly enjoyed having the chance to ‘speak-up’, listen, and interact without constraints, and ‘on the record’. Even after the ‘official’ roundtable had ended and the camera was bagged, the conversation continued. My wife commented later in private, that she had learned something NEW about her brother after nearly 46 years and she had really enjoyed the overall discussion.

So the moral of the story is ‘HAVE THE TALK’! Find a way to muzzle the electronics and endless media onslaught for just a few minutes per week and have a conversation TOGETHER with the people who YOU know best and SHOULD know you. Don’t be afraid – it’s actually loads of fun and you may end up learning (or teaching) something new. No you won’t always agree, nor will you or your family's opinions always be appreciated or particularly insightful, but that’s not the point. Your mission as an immigrant to this brave new world of familial conversation, is to simply crack the door open into the ancient but lost art, as a respectful SOURCE of discourse of course. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Prime Nine + one reason I am thankful

I must depart from the mirth and mayhem to wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving. Yes it truly is this time of year where we pause to reflect upon our collective good fortunes and temporarily set aside our gripes and frustrations. Actually I think it is a good habit to take the time to REGULARLY acknowledge the best aspects of our daily lives - NOT just on holidays. That does not mean you have to settle for less or ignore the assault of real problems in your daily struggle. Rather, the point is that we ALL have much more to be thankful for than what can be crammed into the confines of a few special days per year.

So I give my appropriate thanks to all the people, places, and things that have made, and will continue to make my life so exhilarating. I cannot tell you how grateful I am to have enjoyed such an interesting and memorable ride over these past years. The journey has not always been easy, but it almost always has been a true adventure, and for that I consider myself to be unbelievably lucky. I sincerely hope you feel the same and even if you don’t here are nine more reasons to at least smile if not be, outright thankful! Cheers!

1) Not only after a big holiday meal but year round, I am thankful for stretch-band slacks and Beano.

2) I am thankful that turkeys do not choose to do the same things to humans as we do to them.

3) I am thankful for our governmental foibles and failings – so I can focus on anything BUT my own screw-ups & personal responsibilities.

4) Isn’t it great that cheese cake is 90% cake and 10% cheese rather than the other way around or it would be REALLY fattening.

5) I am thankful that ‘FLIP’ mini video cams don’t actually do THAT while you are filming, or the recordings would be jumpy and hard to watch even in high definition.

6) I’m thankful that meteorologists routinely indentify ‘dew points’ so they can remain regular and Pepto-free.

7) While I am thankful for ’Black Friday’, I would be even more grateful if ALL other races had their own bargain shopping day too.

8) I am very thankful that there are only 24 hours in a day or no doubt NBC’s extended ‘Today’ show programming would still be going into tomorrow.

9) And finally, except for when I am in San Francisco, I am ALWAYS really happy with the toy in my ‘Happy meal’

Thursday, November 18, 2010

SCAN THIS!

Ok I am getting a little bored with the whole debate over the airport screening flap. I am all about protecting personal freedoms ESPECIALLY as an American, but give me a break with the manufactured indignation over stupid airport scanners. There are plenty of other REAL problems in the world to worry about.

My wife flies commercial usually twice a week and I hit the unfriendly skies 3 or 4 times a year. I can tell you, honestly I wish I did not have to get undressed every time I see a Transportation Security Agent (but they just look so good in those pretty blue shirts). In reality however, I get more stressed about leaving the ‘Cinnabon’ stand behind in the food court than getting unduly man-handled by security wonks in starched collared shirts.

I mean, I try to look at the positive side when I am flying. Without the TSA folks, I would never know that most of my socks have holes in them. I am kind of hoping that with these new total body scanners, the agents can help me check for excessive wear in my undies too? Who knows, maybe I can save a few bucks on dental x-rays or hopefully discover an actual pig inside of me to justify all my body bacon?

I was really good at avoiding the gym showers in high school, so of all people, I am not anxious to have pictures of my love handles scrutinized by random airport cops, but I’m sure it’s no picnic for them either. The reality is I prefer to make a little better travel time to both coasts than is currently possible by horse, buggy, or bus. These holiday travel babies need to fly private at four times the cost or wear lead-lined diapers in a twist if they're so concerned with intrusive security.

I for one hate trying to get caps off of aerosol paint cans, yet I don’t see barrio ‘taggers’ crying to the press about this unfair inconvenience. I can’t even sneak a nightcap swig of Nyquil anymore without pulling off an inner safety seal. And those poor tobacco fans – not only do they get taxed to death faster than they can smoke themselves there; now they will have to stare at a giant diseased black lung on their cigarette packs while puffing.

So I know the whiners pine away for the good ol’ days of airline travel in America. The ruthless scanner-cams have really made us miss our freedoms just like teens do when they have to grow up into REAL adults. The new reality however, is that we ALL do what we HAVE to do to show up in one piece at the end of the line, baggage safely in hand, and ALIVE. I don’t expect everyone to take this SCANdalous new TSA policy lightly, sitting down. I expect you to just STAND UP, get in line, and take your pats FIRMLY, just like the rest of us … so we can all get where we are going and turn our attention to more important things.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Smoke Signals

I think other than my Mother, I have an inherent distrust of things that are designed to protect me. Actually I am not so sure about my mom either because she seems unusually obsessed with that ‘Bad Seed’ movie. Ever since I saw that flick with her, I have avoided boat docks and bad weather for the last 30 years and I never, EVER have shown her any ‘medals’ that I have stolen from my friends.

The problem is that I guess I am a better learner by example. I know I should be more trusting but I think it is actually prudent to VERIFY the stuff charged with the responsibility to keep me alive. I guess that means I need to run into something to see if my car air bags and seat belts work reliably? I would be very disappointed if I paid for all of that technology and it doesn’t work if I need it. I wonder how you test ‘Body Guards’ if you are rich and famous? I admit I rarely have to dodge lead bullets but it’s all those pies that I am usually avoiding that worry me. Maybe I should get a skinny cook rather than a fat body guard so I can watch the calories fly by?

You know it is kind of funny, they make us test smoke detectors every six months and yet not once has anyone ever checked my seat belts or air bags on any of my cars. What’s worse is that I KNOW how many false alarms I have had with smoke detectors after a bad run-in with some rogue popcorn or a Cajun blackened Pop-Tart. In the old days when we had just one or two battery driven smoke detectors, I would just reach up and pop the battery out until the room aired out.

But now, when one A.C. powered detector goes off, it sends a warning signal to its 15 other noisy friends occupying every impossibly high ceiling in the house! I have no idea which detector is causing trouble at two in the morning, so I have to wander the house in a jamied stupor, putting my life in danger checking every room for smoke. I have never been in peril from fire but I have had a few close calls popping into random bedrooms sniffing conspicuously – most people don’t appreciate that kind of attention from an old geezer. Gee I am sure lucky to have all of this reliable modern technology protecting me … I just wish those Indians would have let my Mayflower ancestors in on the secret that ‘smoke signals’ are really REALLY noisy!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The pleasures of elections

Well regardless of who your favorite son or daughter did in the tallies, the pleasure of elections is when they are OVER! I don’t mean to sound unpatriotic. I am actually thrilled to live in a country where I can exuberantly stand up and be counted without literally losing my head!

At the end of the day though, it is nice to put all of the constant noise and chaff to bed. I think overall though, politics must certainly be good for the economy. I mean just look at how many tv and radio ads are sold. I would guess that if you owned and were paying the bills for a TV station, you would wish for an election vote EVERY Tuesday and a Superbowl EVERY Sunday.

I am not sure what the big hyped surprise of this election is however? How many of your friends would remain so if you simply ignored them even when they were waving their arms, sending smoke signals, and pleading with you to slow down and LISTEN? The electorate felt ignored and cheated so what do you expect, roses and champagne or a big old kick in the pants?

Now don’t get me wrong, there is no mighty mandate here. The people just went on a ‘bad date’ so it is going to be awhile before they warm up to finding ‘Mr. or Mrs. Right’ again. If the newbies saunter into Washington expecting to be loved or even liked without earning their way back into our hearts, they will end up lonely and kicked to the curb next time too.

The biggest pleasure of this election might be, if we are lucky, our politicians, regardless of party, will start treating the U.S. Treasury with the same care and respect that they do their own checkbooks? Hmmm, on second thought though that is probably a dangerous proposition … I bet their personal checks bounce even bigger than their overinflated egos!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Greet This!

In one of my weekly treks I ventured into a Wal Mart where I was happily waved at by one of their door greeters. I am curious about this job on a number of levels. Do you have to have any kind of training to be a greeter or is something that you are just ‘born’ with? Is the ‘Greeter’ position a coveted job or is it like the leftover job that nobody wants and has to draw straws for at the beginning of a shift? I think it is a job that takes a LOT of experience because everyone I ever see doing it has been around since the war … the CIVIL war.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to be a greeter snob or ‘uppity’ in any way. In fact I tried to imagine myself as a greeter but I doubted if I would make the grade. Not only am I about 60 years too young, but Wal Mart likes to maintain a friendly atmosphere. Though I try to be nice and happy most of the time, my face always seems to be scowling. I think it is a birth defect or something.

Yeah I figured my melon-head had more soft brown spots on it than the typical ‘normal’ baby banana does. I think when I was born, my parents must have inadvertently pinched my face into a permanent frown while reaching for cigarettes and alcohol. I didn’t know it then but my life surely had limited job potential as a joyful party clown, or worse, a Wal Mart greeter.

I always wonder if the ‘Greeters’ are actually like super secret store detectives watching every patron’s move, looking for shoplifters and hooligans. They probably have sophisticated electronic surveillance gear hidden underneath that wheel chair or behind that little podium. They seem all warm and fuzzy on the outside but I am guessing that is because of all the shawls and doilies they are wearing.

I actually think they are secretly probing and scanning me as I walk in and out of the store. Too bad that I will never know the pleasure of having such awesome power and responsibility as the dutiful blue-vested Greeter. The only thing I ever get to probe freely is a stopped up toilet or maybe a waxy orifice or two. If I play my cards right, at least I still have a chance at becoming a parking lot ‘shopping cart collection dude’ someday – those folks ALWAYS have a frown on their face!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Short pants

I had the good fortune to happen upon a UPS delivery guy getting out of his truck in front of a neighbor’s house. While ordinarily I do not make it a habit to stare at MEN with keen interest, with this guy it was different – and he made me hungry. Not only was he dressed in the well known corporate dark brown togs but he was wearing his shorts too! What other jobs demand short pants as an ‘official’ work uniform - Lifeguard, Hooters girl, marathon man?

No as you might have guessed I am not a ‘shorts’ man myself. Yes I will wear them from time to time when I am trapped in a mine for 10 weeks, or an alligator has the other half of my legs. But most of the time I try not to thrill too many ladies with my knobby knees and hairy ‘tan-less’ ankles. Yes I like as much length in my pants as possible to keep everything in place and help keep the dust, bugs, and random coinage from getting trapped in various nooks and crannies.

But I was thinking about our UPS guy, Fed Ex folks, and even the post office people too for that matter. Their official uniforms often include SHORT PANTS? What is it with delivery people that demands ‘naked knees’ in the workplace? It seems to me that if I was lugging boxes and packages all over the back of a delivery van, I would want a little more skin protection beyond that which suntan lotion provides.

Also, no matter what your body type or the weather, you have to stuff yourself into those dandy pants and walk around like you are a 12 year old prep student to do your job. That was the issue with the parcel dude that I saw this week. He was sporting a hefty ‘gut-tastic’ belly flop well beyond the beltline. I am sure when the company clothing designers were imagining their corporate image, they did not anticipate their delivery folks reminding us of big chocolate muffins! See I told you I was hungry!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

‘Fatman’ utility knife without the GUANO!

Though I think I learned to read from ‘Baby Huey’ and ‘Sad Sack’ comic books, I also learned a lot from the early days of Batman and his whiz-bang gizmo technology too. Oddly I was never a big fan of Superman but what would you expect from someone whose comic book heroes were Sad Sack and Baby Huey? To my parent’s horror I identified more with ‘Jimmy’ the loser copyboy or even Lois Lane, than the ‘bespectacled’ dual-persona of svelte Clark Kent.

Recently my wife decided to order me up one of those fancy pocket knives that does a lot more than stab things. Lots of those knives do that but few do them well on the bargain end, so surprisingly she bought a genuine Buck knife with a can opener, a pair of screwdrivers, a slide-out pliers, and of course a knife. Now I know you are a bit disappointed. After all, only 5 toys on a pocketknife? Where is the toothpick, the magnifying glass, and the keen, pop-out ‘killer laser ray gun”? I think if you really had a cool crime-fighter knife like Batman might carry, it would at least come with a soup spoon and nail clippers, right.

Well the truth is this is a REALLY quality knife, better than I have ever owned or even need. I am not used to such luxury as I have been raised opening envelopes by hand and tearing into stubborn plastic packaging and steaks with my teeth for years. Even though this knife only does 5 things, it seems to be designed to do them really well. The plier’s jaws actually fit better together than the stand alone pliers in my tool box? The knife edge will literally cut butter effortlessly and the blade does not even need to be hot!

So to make up for my lost youth and latent desires to beat Batman at his own utility belt game, I have decided to carry this knife every day. Consider it my tough-guy ‘homage’ to ‘Billy Jack’ or some other Hollywood on-screen rowdy. Of course I am a little older now so my gut seems to have spread out way past middle age and well on its way to full-blown fogey status. Since my ‘go go gadget’ belt is ‘fat-covered’ and inaccessible these days, I had to move my new knife to where I can get at it easily if I ever meet a rival gang of geezers. Yep, I tied it to the laces of my Dr. Scholls sneakers - right next to the emergency Beano and Pepto Bismol! ‘Betcha’ Fatman wishes he was as SHARP as me … but not quite as gassy!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My Swan Song – “365 and still alive”

Like death and taxes, when it comes to goals there is a certain inevitability to them. However, unlike dying and taxation, with goals you have the generous 3 alternative outcomes rather than just one. The first of course is to complete the goal as originally established; the second is to abandon the goal altogether; and the final option, most often exercised, is simply to change the goal to a different, more achievable challenge.

While I will continue to try every year to NOT pay more taxes, I think in the end, it will be far easier to squeeze out another gasp or two of life’s last breath than avoid the tax-collector’s deeply dark, and linty pockets. So it is only fair that if I set a real, DEFINED goal, no matter how insignificant, I should do everything in my power to achieve it right – but then what?

So it is with genuine mixed emotions, I can report that as of today I have completed my bloggy goal. Back in March I promised myself to write 365 blogposts as quickly as I could. For five months straight I wrote close to 23,000 words per month and over 11,000 words during both August and September. It has been a fun challenge to write mirthfully to a daily deadline regardless of mood, interest, and other priorities. Despite that fact, it has also been an incredible amount of work too, and it is time for a change.

So unlike politicians and tenured teachers, before I get truly redundant and entrenched in routine, it is time to wander around the bend and conquer new meaningless goals and personal challenges. Oh sure I will check in from time to time on my blog friends and comment where necessary. I will also continue to randomly write a post or two when I stumble upon life’s glaring absurdities begging for goofy insights and wordplay.

So rather than this being the Pajama Monoblog’s ‘swan song’, I encourage you to treat this ‘auditory assault’ as simply my silver swan’s celebratory bugle and hiss of FREEDOM. Check the archives once in awhile if you need a ‘tickle-fix’ and of course stay in touch. Thank you all and remember … when our goals cross paths again in the future – I’ll be sure to HONK!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Vampires say - ‘Hold the Mayo Clinic’

Am I the only one that hates the ‘Mayo Clinic’ as a name? I never quite get the association between superior quality medical care and high-fat deli spreads. This is supposed to be one of the best medical think tanks in the entire country but whenever I hear references to the Mayo clinic I only THINK of bologna.

I kind of have this same problem with another medical heavyweight entity named ‘Johns Hopkins’. Shouldn’t this place be associated with ‘Hopscotch’ or drive-thru porti potties rather than quality medical care? What would be really terrific if these institutions ever merged into “John Mayo” – now that is a company that could revolutionize the public toilet seat covering industry! If nothing else it would finally explain the age old mystery why restrooms so often smell like rotten eggs.

I know I should not get all hung up on names and try to be more flexible and open to change. I should probably just quietly drink the Kool-aid and join the modern generation where anything and everything goes. After all who cares what a name implies as long as the end result is quality goods or services. It’s just when it comes to hospitals, toilets, and food, these are the mysteries in life that I really want to know what I am getting BEFORE I venture beyond the swinging door.

Anyway who am I to judge, maybe good food and hospitals have gotten a bad rap all of these years? Apparently a group of alcohol pad-sucking Latvian doctors must think so, as they have now even taken high-class gourmet hospital cuisine to whole new level. Honestly, I think even those Transylvania vampires, 500 miles to the south of Latvia, are too chicken to sink their teeth into the ‘Sweeney Todd-esque’ kidney pie or blood sausage. No, like ALF, I think modern vamps prefer a big ol’ bowl of ‘CAT scan’ but of course - don’t forget to hold the Mayo!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The pleasures of flying

I always love flying commercial airlines these days. Where else do people willingly line up and give away their money to be abused. I mean who wouldn’t want to open up your wallet so you could breathe bad air, drink watered-down soda and commune with sweaty hefty folks and babies with diapers set to ‘Stun’. If I was a little smarter, I think it’s probably better to go lay my face on a hot stove and STILL suffer less pain.

First they grab as much of your cash as possible for a ticket – and what do you get? At least in the old days, you used to get a piece of cool RED carbon paper and an index card for your 300 bucks. Now, I basically get an e-mail with a number on it and hope the airline won’t go broke before my flight date. Next when I get to the airport I get the pleasure of ‘UNDRESSING’ again since I obviously did not get it right the first time? Yeah, the belt comes off, the pockets get emptied, and the shoes are removed. More often than not, I am greeted with a part of my foot sticking out of a holey sock and my first thought after embarrassment is ‘DARN’ that sock.

Next boarding is always a blast. I think only cows and lemmings are better at lining up for the ultimate slaughter as compared to the airline flying public. Now between senior citizens, stroller babies, military, first class, executive platinum, & priority access PRE-BOARDING, there are about 7 or 8 people left like me who load the plane last. Of course since everyone has been de-incentivized to store baggage where it belongs in the baggage compartment, there is rarely space left for my one lonely bag much less my girth.

Who was the bright bulb who thought it was MORE efficient to encourage 200 people to carry all of their worldly possessions in bloated backpacks and oversized carry-ons in the passenger cabin? I admit however, it takes ‘guts’ for a struggling enterprise which is constantly behind schedule, lethargic, and having difficulty improving customer service, to continue doing their jobs as POORLY as possible. Gee I really am out of touch – I thought that was the job of the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

PDA – Public Display of ART

Prologue: Thanks are once again in order to Raker for holding down the 'fort' in my absence.I think some of Raker's incapable ancestors filled in at the Alamo (where I was hiding this week) awhile back and look how THAT turned out. I guess then I should consider myself lucky, as the blog does not seem to be broken or worse for the wear. Now that I'm back however, I intend to FIX that problem and screw up this blog once and for all! So on with today's topic ...


Though I really do love quality art and creative and interesting uses of materials, I am actually not a big fan of public displays of art OR affection. What will really turn me off, is if you are kissing on top of a public art display. Even for an open-minded person, that is just too much to stand … so being closed-minded myself, I often will SIT and watch.

Now don’t get me wrong, on occasion like most folks, I enjoy a stroll through a park or city plaza to visit my tax money strewn on the lawn. In many towns, that is where they invest any extra revenue to buy some kind of BIG abstract public art piece. I want to like these ‘so-called’ sculptures, but most of the time I do not think they are ‘THAT’ meaningful or unique. Apparently I am not the only one who feels that way given the special kind of ‘art’ that the birds and squirrels do on top of the public works too.

Most of the problem is that I am jealous of all forms of PDA. I always believe in my heart, that I probably could make better artwork for less money or even ‘kiss’ better for hardly any money at all. The secret for these big-shot artists is that they simply make their stuff really, really HUGE and that is supposed to impress the taxpayers of its significance. If I had a forklift, crane, and random collection of materials, could I throw that stuff out on the lawn and impress people too? Where I come from that is called ‘Trash Day’!

If people are so impressed by big concrete, metal, and glass edifices, why don’t they just go stare at downtown buildings and fall in love with them for their artful significance. Unlike typical public art, those structures are highly interactive, and at least serve some purpose by (usually) keeping the rain off the people are inside. Unless really freaky, most public displays of art and affection don’t encourage people to climb all over them. So as a taxpayer, I have to ask – other than photos, what enlightenment am I really getting for all those public art displays? It can’t be culture, because I still seem to scratch n’ sniff in all the wrong places regardless what I’m looking at. Hmmm, I guess I should learn from those birds and squirrels – when it comes to PDA, they seem to have the right idea after all?

Friday, October 1, 2010

LINCOLN’S MOTHER’S DOCTOR’S DOG

That title might sound silly to you. If so, you’re right. But I’ll explain the brilliant reasoning behind it: Several years ago I read about a survey of American reading habits. It said the four topics that would attract the most American readers were “Lincoln, Mothers, Doctors, and Dogs." Gee, we must have been straight-laced back then! Now it would probably be more slanted to movie and sports stars plus debt and taxes. Dogs still might make the list. Even in supposedly tough times I see more people with two or more dogs, most stopping to leave tributes on my lawn. I don’t mind the lawn-defiling so much, but scraping my lawnmower tire treads could make a dirty stick my Man’s Best Friend!

Now since lots of writers read blogs, let’s think about this: How many times do we find titles that give us FOUR chances to write a Best Seller? So why not use that title, just as-is, (or as-was) and write your own version of Lincoln’s Mother’s Doctor’s Dog? Most people don’t even know much about his mother, and less about his doctor and nothing about any dog he might have had. Or the stick he used to. . . well, you know. And we will ALL know all those people and dogs when you enlighten us with your tale. No fear of perjury, as titles are not copyrightable, unless you’re usurping a famous one and trying to pass off “Gone With the Wind” as your own.

I’ve already messed with the “Dog” part, which I hope will get you started ‘scraping up stuff’ for the three human subjects. Anything you might find that Lincoln said or did should likely come next. His mother and doctor are harder, so I leave that up to you. I do see a framework for a soap-opera plot there, because what mother isn’t attracted to doctors? Even if no more scandalous than only for their sons to become or their daughters to marry.

It is easy to find quotes from famous folk, whether they said them or not. Yogi Berra must be continually surprised when he reads brand new made-up quotes that sound like his “Poils of Wisdumb.” Will Rogers’ zingers could fill books, and does so. But Rogers made his living being a ‘communicator,’ while so many “great names” rarely said much worth archiving. Henry Ford’s statement that fascinates me the most was one he took a lot of guff about: “History is Bunk!” If you’ve ever read a news story of something you saw or experienced you will likely agree with him. I’ve found at least a name or a place spelled wrong, or a typo error in most events I witnessed -- and where the reporter didn’t seem to have been there! Now compare the new (and more expensive) copy of a high school or college history text. See how so many “facts” and heroes have changed to meet the new more trendy viewpoints of what academia wants kids to believe NOW, instead of “last year’s slant.”

But wait! Re-thinking the Henry Ford quote about History - - If it really IS bunk, then maybe he never said that! I am “History” myself! I am “Raker.” Welcome back, Willie!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

FINALLY WE LOOK INTO PAJAMAS

Since I, Raker, WCC’s 'sometime friend,’ am substituting,I wonder why this pajama-named blog has so little about pajamas . Also, I’m wondering how come the URL spells monoblogs without the “b,” as “monologs.” My guess is that WCC worked far into the first night to get this site launched. Being even groggier than usual, he just forgot the ‘b.’ Good thing he didn’t forget his pajamas. (He writes in a computer store window where he moonlights as a dummy.) Or, if you prefer, he IS a dummy, who doubles as a writer. I am not worried if he sees this. I get automatically fired whenever he gets back into town.

But I owe it to you, and to those professors of the future who will get million-dollar grants to research the lack of pajama facts herein. Worries me that this is far from the least vital subject which gets funded by giveaway money. But here is my unfunded attempt to remedy WCC’s ‘unfair labeling.’ I hope something I do will satisfy the hungry pajamophiles.

I know that in old movies everyone wore pajamas if they were in the same scene with the opposite sex. If women got up to answer a phone they instantly put on a bathrobe. We guess those old dial phones let in some cold drafts. In new movies adult pajamas are seldom seen, except on grandpas, (thankfully.) I have seen many cute “dorm pajamas’ for sale at Walmart. But my request to look into what college girls wear in the dorms is still pending, as it has been for several years. The Campus Police gave better service than the administration, however, when they called me in to discuss it. So I can’t see a thing from the 500 feet I am required to keep away.

I also know that in most hospitals you can’t wear pajamas. “Gap-View Gowns” are the uniforms of the sick. That’s so that nurses don’t have to paw around for a landing place to use for “shot spots." The health workers’ credo is “We open you up and see clear INSIDE you. So why worry if everyone else sees the OUTSIDE of you?" Makes you think that doctors and such don’t care about dignity...UNTIL you call one “Doc." He instantly looks very dignifed. “That’s Doc-TOR, Buster!" Best not to irritate anyone who holds the power of life and death over you, like doctors. Or waiters -- who are alone with your food.

Good news though. I saw that some British hospitals are using gowns with slits on the side to hide the split in the rear. Much better, but still the breeze can slip in and flop the flaps in a game of peekaboo. All of a sudden you are attracting the same attention as those slit-skirted women in Saigon bars.

But for the rest of us, the cry of the patient is still heard:

“Hey Nurse -- My gown has no rear end back there!”
“Hmm,” she says, I’ll take look.” She does, and laughs.
“Nope. You’re wrong. I saw a lotta rear end back there!”

-- The End. (A subject I just tried to cover.) --

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

DUMB BLONDE JOKE (by a DUMB BLOGGER)

Buffy: “Oh look at this in our recipe book, Muffy. A CHEESE BALL! Why don’t you read it to me and I’ll follow your instructions?”
Muffy: “Goody! Gimme the book. OK, now first roll up some cheese into a ball."
Buffy: “I’ve got the cheese in a ball. What next?”
Muffy: “Now it says to crush some nuts very fine, pick up the cheese ball and roll in them.”
Buffy, minutes later: “OK Muffy. I’m all covered with nuts. Now what do I do?”

Apologies to all the blondes who are not dumb. I know one who is actually brilliant, wise, and, in fact, knows everything about me -- even things that aren’t true. Are you reading this, wifey dear? Is it safe for me to come out of my room?

But since I subjected my readers to that, I will reward them with a real recipe. All that nut-crushing made me think of one of my favorite treats. Maybe yours too. Those great PAYDAY® candy bars. If I can’t chance having Buffy I’ll take one of those sweet things rolled in nuts.

I always like Paydays, even as a kid. But I learned to respect them in the Army. They were the only candy bar that wouldn’t melt in your pocket or pack on a long, hot march. I even slept in a pup tent and did a “Buffy thing” by rolling over on one in my pocket during the night. Good as new. We weren’t allowed to bring candy on maneuvers and guys who showed chocolate stains soaking through their pockets got in trouble. Not us with our Payday contraband!

Now here is your BONUS RECIPE. Just for putting up with my tasteless, sexist, blondist (?) joke. Well, not tasteless!

HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN CHEAP, FAKE “PAYDAY” CANDY!

Payday candy bars too big and expensive lately? Too many calories? But no problem for you! Now recreate almost the taste you love whenever you get the urge. HERE IS HOW:

Candy Corn is mainly the same mixture and taste as the inside of a Payday®. And any peanuts taste like any other peanuts, as long as your pet puppy or raccoon has not licked them. So you simply mix both together. (The candy corn and peanuts -- not the puppy and raccoon.) Use either plain or salted peanuts as to your taste. Combine the two fixins in whatever percentage tastes like the real, good old-fashioned Payday you are too cheap to buy.

Note: to make them into shapes like candy bars, you will have to do something like Muffy was reading, minus the “body roll.” Otherwise, just eat this mix by the handful. Either way you are set to enjoy even SMALL PAYDAYS!!!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

FUNNY SIGNS OF THE TIMES and Other Times

I enjoy those outdoor church signs. If they’re not too wordy and I’m not driving too fast I have time to read the whole sign. I laugh so hard at the really funny ones it wiggles the steering wheel. So it’s no longer just the sign that’s funny, my driving becomes funny. But a cop wouldn’t think so.

Here’s one that got me gurgling by surprise: “Try Jesus. If you don’t get along together the Devil will always take you back.”

Instead of my long list, I’m betting I’ve stimulated you into remembering your own favorites. If so, let us hear 'em in the comments section.

There are at least two kinds of funny communications. FIrst are statements that are intended to be funny, like the above. But often even funnier are statements meant to be serious that get twisted into the opposite. Just a bit of inept wording can do it. “We chose our winner due to her poise and personality.” That looked OK when typed on the speaker’s notes. But hearing it left the audience wondering who and how died because of her lethal personality . Best to read aloud stuff you mean to be spoken unless you’re aiming for that kind of a laugh.

Foreign language throws humor curves at us too. I once was in a Germanic-mock-up Rathskellar Tavern. I decided to forego drinking and just ate the peanuts. No desire to open up the wrong restroom door until I figured out the ‘Damen and Herren” signs. I tried using ‘reason,’ like our teachers tried so hard to instill in us. It worked, but backward ... “Herren’ had “Her” in it. And any mobster might dash through the other door he read as “Da Men.” Poor jerk.. Cuz dose men wasn’t in dere.

But the church signs will have to do until the once-famed but now almost forgotten Burma Shave road signs come back. Driving across the USA before the interstates replaced our more leisurely highways, you’d find them. Sets of separate signs spaced for easy reading of a poetic phrase at a time. They were ever-changing. Written by clever, even brilliant rhymesters. Here is one I saw blooming among the prairie wildlflowers of southern Wyoming:

SPRING HAS SPRUNG
THE GRASS HAS RIZ
WHERE LAST YEAR’S
CARELESS DRIVERS IS.

...were the first four signs. Then always ending with
the last sign: BURMA SHAVE.

Hoping that even if you’re too young to shave you pay heed to the first four signs. Then you might live to BE old enough!

Monday, September 27, 2010

HOW TO MAKE YOURSELF IMMUNE FROM BEDBUGS

Some of you will be sorry to hear that blogger WCC is off on a trip again. Some of you WON'T be sorry that I, 'Raker', am back, judging by the raves I got when I filled in before. Not bragging. I was raved at by several of WCC's followers.

As for the title of Bedbug Immunity, I confess that was a ploy to pole-vault into higher Search Engine Ratings. But so as not to disappoint any reader who is "itching" to know, here's the secret: To avoid becoming a Slurpee to a bedbug, or messed with by anything (or anybody) that craves to cozy up to you in the night, try this: Sleep completely zipped up IN A BODY BAG. If you are into multi-tasking and want to sleep and breathe at the same time, a couple of soda straws up the nostrils should suffice. But don't worry -- the odds of one or two bedbugs finding the straw holes and sliding down inside are too big (and ghastly) to even consider.

With my "bait promise" fulfilled, I'll move on. Stop cheering! I mean move on in subject matter, not move away!. But I sense your preference to hear about WCC, your spoiled, and perhaps soiled, little favorite, so I'll spill the beans. Or "flop the frijoles," to fake a bit of Southwestern lingo. But WCC is rather a messy eater. Instead of a BIB, his momma made him wear a MOP.

No driving the Ozark-Okie-Texas Autobahn for him this time. He flew on the modern travelers' magic carpet -- a cutrate ticket. That means he won't be needing the heavy-duty forklift he used at those Fast n' Friendly Food-filled Diners on the roadsides. Just a tweezerful of peanuts (maybe) for each coach passenger. And free drinks IF you retained a cheekful at the water fountain back at the terminal. Sure keeps airliner restroom traffic down.

Why subject himself and his wife to this? Mainly to jump up and irritate other patrons by yelling "Groovy!" when their violinist daughter goes into a soft and sensitive passage Amazing how that girl transforms a piece of 18th century wood, horsehair and rosin-on-a-stick so magically to life! Almost as ear-opening as a jalapeno on a stick ... IF you accidentally shove it in your ear. No, they don't serve those hot peppers at classical music concerts even in Texas -- no matter how hard LBJ and G.W. Bush legislated for them.

I'll be back to fill you in, or UP, on more of WCC's adventures. For now, we can just imagine him bursting with pride as the other concertgoers point him out as the father of the brilliant violinist. "Which one is her dad?" asks one guy. "Oh," says his wife, "I believe he's the one wearing the mop."

Thanks for listening to me -- and for thinking of WCC. -- Raker.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

AIRBAGS should be un-seen and un-heard

Well no doubt I will offend some of you today. Given the fact that even my family thinks of me as a big ol’ bag of wind, you might be surprised to know that I am not a fan of bagpipes or accordions. Who wants to sit around and listen to an instrument that sounds like it is wheezing all the time?If I wanted to embrace the melodic respiration of heavy breathing, I would simply run up and down the stairs a couple of times or call the counter girl at Dunkin Donuts with my regular sensuous phone order.

Yes the only good thing ‘bellows’ are good for is stoking forest fires or making an urgent plea for Walrus mates at the zoo, but nobody should have ever attached them to pipes and reeds.Now don’t whine to me about how much skill these instruments take to play. Don’t you think everyone in the world already knows that? The reason bagpipes and accordions are so difficult to learn, is the world decided long ago that we collectively DO NOT WANT people to master these ‘honkers’ quickly, so get a clue!

Nobody EVER gets wistful for the throaty sound of a New Year’s Eve party horn mixed with a kazoo and that squeezebag, Bea Arthur’s bark. Even if you do - forget the hot ‘air bags’! You can get the same odious results by simply running out to any lake and fervently squeezing geese until your ears bleed, or one of you lays a rotten egg.

Especially in the case of bagpipes, I completely understand how this instrument has become associated with funerals and death. What is really ‘AMAZING’ to me is how the dearly departed have the ‘GRACE’ to stay in the grave when all the caterwauling starts. Here in Missouri, on occasion an accordion will play a graveside service as well. Believe me, I try to behave, but by the third painful stanza if you ‘REED’ my body language, it is obvious that I am trying mightily to refrain from ‘POLKA da fingers in my ears!’


Ok enough musical discontent – we’ll let the rappers do THAT heavy lifting from now on. It is clear that I must pay penance for this horrible, mean-spirited post against bagpipes and accordions. Like all the sensitive yet great men that have walked before me, such as Napoleon, Mel Gibson, and Richard Simmons, I intend to go into self-imposed isolation for the next week. Since maybe two and a half people ‘religiously’ read this blog, who am I to stand in the way of warped personal beliefs? Therefore I have conscripted the mighty pen of my dutiful substitute (and clearly unemployed) friend, code named ‘RAKER’, to fill-in during my rehabilitation. I am trusting you to be gracious and generous little blogophiles in my absence, and treat Raker with the same respect that Michael Vick treats his dogs. So play nice, have fun, and I’ll haunt you all next week! W.C.C.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Old age peek is not for the meek

Can somebody explain to me what nature’s plan was for these crazy hairs that grow out of my ears, nose, and eyebrows? Now I don’t remember these stiff wiry clown hairs when I was a kid and you’d think back then, I should have still had enough ‘hot and fresh’ brain cells to remember? So why now does my DNA decide to pull forward to my drive-up window, and sneak in an extra large order for these freakish follicles?

Now I am not too vain. As I get older I have willingly looked past a few extra crow’s feet in addition to the scrawny pair I stand on. I accept a little extra face flapping when I belly up to the jet blast of airplane, or skydive without the liberal application of duct tape reinforcement along the jowls. But these hairs – why me? Who deserves to start growing screwy side burns and a brow-line briar patch as soon as the top turns a tad frosty?

Now what gets me is that these weird hairs are not content to just grow in a normal, organized, linear fashion, like the rest of my tight-napped crown. No these hyper things grow like they are jazzed up on a bad mix of Red Bull and Turkish Espresso. They bend and fold back upon themselves until I’ve got a fresh crop of paper clips sprouting from my ears.

Oh well I had better get used to nature’s syndicated sit-com called old age because I think my hair troubles are just the beginning of this tired old-man circus. I’m going to try my best to resist, but my knees creak, my vision’s weak, and my hairy widow’s peaked! Don’t worry, the news isn’t all bleak – at least for now, I don’t seem to INVOLUNTARILY leak!

Friday, September 24, 2010

The agent behind the Orange

As I was wiping my greasy fingers of a thin layer of agent orange dust or something just as toxic, I started to wonder what is it that I love about Cheese Doodles so much. I mean after all, they are just some puffed up caloric corn meal extrusion in the shape of a small zeppelin aren’t they? Well to us maybe, but to the spirit of a big cheese ball named Morrie Yohai (1920-2010), 'Doodling’ was literally THE invention of his life.

Not that Morrie thought so mind you. He was busy with other important stuff like deciding on what toys to stuff into Cracker Jack boxes. Yohai never completely appreciated how popular his tubular crunchy snack would become when he created and named it in the late 50’s. However, I think the snack king secretly must have embraced his 70’s ‘inner hippie’ with that nifty neon-orange powder coating that should show up perfectly under a black light.

Now while I love these snacks, I usually prefer to get my natural ‘Snooki’ self-tan from a bottle, instead of some artificial cheesy sack of finger food. My t-shirts never look quite as white after I bust into a bag of these better than cheddar snacks, especially when I’m squeezing ‘em dry for a glass of orange juice.

Yes, poor Morrie never realized the pure, unbridled joy that his corny creation would bring to the future of family snacking. Clearly, there are few foods in life which are more fun sticking out of random orifices than cheesy corn cylinders. Shove ‘em under my lip and I’m a vampire; Stick them in my ears and I am Franken-freak. And let’s not forget the nose – that’s the Holy Grail of places to plug-in cheesy, crumb-covered snacks. Yes, next to mini-marshmallows, everyone ‘NOSE’ that there is no better ammunition than a depot of wet ‘doodles’ when declaring a ‘full-blown’ snack attack – as long as they’re only ORANGE!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The REAL 'Vloggers' of Orange County

I don’t have pay television but when I am travelling or at friend’s homes who do have cable and satellite, I enjoy bouncing around the channels to see what’s on that’s different. On one of those occasions a few years ago, I noted a show called the ‘Real Housewives of Orange County’ and found it intriguing like a dead bug. Low and behold the dead bug is alive and well and now apparently in reruns on my broadcast channels this television season.

No don’t worry, I have not got sucked up in the artificial lifestyle vortex of the Southern California ‘Glam and Fab’. I now have too much fun foraging for my next buffet in the ‘Slab and Flab’ bar-b-que tornado called the Midwest. Anyway I already did my time in Orange County for nearly 20 years. As different as the place was, you’ll be happy to know the ‘REAL’ people that live there are not anything like ‘weird-sters’ portrayed on the TV show – they’re like me … WEIRDER!

I’m kidding of course, but I have to say that because I have many friends and family who happily reside and are still ‘California dreaming’, despite their regular cold sweats and feverish nightmares. The place has changed from the glory days of orange groves, endless blue skies, and future promises but that’s another story. But this whole TV show thing got me thinking, they probably need to make a television series about the challenging and exciting lives of ‘Real’ bloggers too, right?

I mean Blog-Geeks talk about literally anything and everything. Our soap opera lives unfold day after day with thrilling adventures and artfully colored words, pictorials, and better yet, even without soap! You would think that Bloggers represent and relay the ‘REAL’ things that most humans encounter at some point, if not daily, in their lives, so where’s their freakish 15 minutes of Hollywood fame? If misfits like me want to stare at a SINGLE ‘dead bug’, once you break into the fertile blogosphere, it’ll be like viewing a WHOLE TRAY of dead bugs from one of those screened ‘bluish’ restaurant lights. Wow, on second thought, this idea is TOO BLUE for regular cable … I think we had better go “PAY PER VLOG”

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Hares and other wild tails

Everybody loves fluffy bunnies with their long silky ears, cute little hops, and their expressionless, soul-less eyes. I have only owned one rabbit in my life and IT (I don’t even remember if it was a boy, girl, or a rabbit at all) was probably the most dissatisfying ‘24 carrot’ thing we have ever owned.

I have always seen rabbits at County Fairs and in pet shops where they are typically passive, un-agitated, and the only disagreeable trait is when they hunker down a bit when giving them a too-aggressive pat behind the ears. Our rabbit was captured in the wild and apparently spawned from the loins of Lucifer himself. The rabbit was a pushy bully who would scratch, kick, and literally knock anyone or anything around that got in his way. Needless to say the other wild rabbits in this dude’s ‘borough’ were as thrilled as we were to get rid of the beast. Best of all we got four nifty ’LUCKY’ keychains and $2.50 a pound out of the deal.

I blame my wife 'T' for the rabbit, cat, birds, and most any other wild animals that we have encountered. So our kid could pet a bunny, I have seen my wife literally keep other rabbits on the move so long that they finally give up running. Once on a hike about 30 miles South of the Arctic Circle, 'T' nearly led us to step on a MOOSE resting in the tall grass. I can honestly say my pants were never the same after that TOO close encounter. We had a similar experience with a beefy and angry sea lion when we happened to run the bow of a small dinghy into the buoy that the big bull was sleeping on.

Yes the wife has developed the unique ability at seek out and trap innocent creatures of nature. Clearly she can wrangle most anything from its natural habitat and wear it down into submission. I’m pretty sure that is the way I was snagged so many years ago ... before they had laws against illegal bear trapping.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Roomba Rhumba

The last few days I have been engaged in a genuine dance of love. I know what you’re thinking, even If it sounds romantic, it must have something to do with robots right? Well I guess I am so thin-skinned that you can see right into my small and dehydrated grayish CPU because you are right.

Yes I have been doing the Roomba Rhumba, which since this is one of those self-propelled robotic vacuums, it must mean my techno ‘jig’ is the direct opposite of ‘dirty dancing’. Though not perfect by any means (here is a formal review), I am genuinely impressed with these fun and flat little dust suckers. They are only about 4 inches tall and the width of a normal beater-bar (as opposed to a biker bar) vac head, so they can go anywhere – EVEN completely under couches, tables, and recliners.

While these devices are literally like having a housekeeper with an extra set of hands around, at best this little ‘micro-maid’ is still a bit mentally challenged. So if you cannot stand the random roaming of a bump n’ grind ‘robo-mop’ running into chair legs, reversing course slightly, and then doing it again – DON’T get one of these bots. But particularly if you have hardwood or tile floors, they are pretty amazing at doing a very respectable job at sucking up crumbs and devouring dust bunnies.

The rechargeable battery runs for about an hour on plush carpet and nearly twice that long on hard floors. Unless you have a mansion, the beast can clean 2 to 3 rooms on a single charge and get this, be programmed to clean floors then recharge itself when needed. It came with a remote control too but, other than to chase your pets, I think if you are going to ‘guide’ a vacuum, why not grab the REAL upright plug-in and help the Roomba suck-it-up faster? Maybe I should invent an all-purpose robot that cleans literally ANYTHING in and around the toilets. Now that is what the world REALLY needs … I’m thinking of calling it the “CAN-DOO BOT”

Monday, September 20, 2010

Fermentation is in Bad Taste

My house really stinks lately. Ordinarily I would tell you that it is not my fault, but this time I have to take most of the blame. No I did not run through the yard after a deer migration, or bloat up on a double bean burrito. Actually the problem around here lately is purely a matter of first-degree felonious fermentation.

Recently with the garage sale acquisition of a rather large variety of beer making buckets, pots, and bottling paraphernalia, my wife and I whipped up not only a batch of brew but some sarsaparilla too. The problem of course is that each recipe fills the house with its own distinctive scent. While the sarsaparilla smells sweet and ‘rooty’, right out of the vat, the ale permeates the air with the odor of ‘damp earth’ and malt balls without the chocolaty goodness of candy varietal.

Though I am not a fan of beer in the least, I’ll line up for a chilly sarsaparilla over a ball of ice cream anytime. The ‘rilla’ likes a warmer final resting place so the bottles are banished to the upstairs bathroom to ferment. The beer likes it cooler so its potent grainy fragrance gets bounced to the basement bathroom. Sadly, I am quickly running out of bathrooms to stink up on my own.

If you don’t find that a ‘gas’ then how about the fact that today I also discovered a DEAD mouse on yet another level of the house. I don’t mean to get ‘CARRION-ED ’ AWAY, but what in the heck is going on in this stink-hole? Between my blog, a rotting Mickey, and the literally BILLIONS of yeast molecules ‘out-gassing’ around here, I feel like I’m living inside a BLIMP instead of a public dump. Oh well, fermentation I’m told, should temper bitterness. I sure hope so, because after smelling and stewing in my own juices this week, I am starting to get a REALLY bad taste in my mouth!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Quality Time Walk

Today I went for a long walk with my wife. It was very enjoyable to take in some ‘quality time’ together and the weather was absolutely perfect. In fact it was so perfect that a lot of OTHER people were out walking, biking, and enjoying the sunshine too. I am all for people getting healthy and their tax-free ‘natural’ tan-time, but selfishly I wish they would do it somewhere else CLOSER to the sun, or further away from my ‘center of the universe’.

I know you are thinking that I am either extraordinarily romantic or more appropriately - an unbelievably self-absorbed curmudgeon. Yes I know that I ‘Rag’ on people unfairly and often my opinions are ‘All Wet’. But in my defense, I DO accept that everyone has the right to enjoy the same good fortune as I, as long as they don’t TAX me figuratively or literally.

If everyone would just keep moving, I would be fine, but usually I am waiting for strollers, avoiding dog-walkers, leaning away from rollerbladers, or ducking Frisbees. My wife is often amused by my obvious distaste of the invasion of my personal space as well as my line of sight so she tortures me. She pointed behind me and said ”I think those people are ALMOST NAKED!”, then waited for my shocked reaction.

I half-heartedly started to turn to see the ‘imaginary display’ but then thought ‘ Forget it’ – it’s not worth the rotational effort required by my neck and spine. You see these days at best, especially in the Midwest, the odds are only about 1 in 10 that my eyes will avoid spontaneous BLEEDING if I actually look at UGLY ‘nekkid’ folks.

I mean usually these people will look LIKE ME and there is no way I’m unleashing this ‘dirty bomb’ Stigmata on innocent bystanders, much less go out of my way to stare them down! So after my wife had her laugh at my expense, I did try and relax a bit more and take in the beautiful scenery. Then a sweaty 300 pound speedo-clad bicyclist whizzed by us with inches to spare yelling “LEFT” and I jumped RIGHT with startled despair. Sympathetically with a sigh, my wife calmly handed me a Wet wipe, two Band-Aids and a white cane ... as far as our Quality Time goes - I guess love really IS BLIND!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Plane Crazy Building Blocks

Growing up, I was always HUNGRY to play with some type of building toy. Lincoln Logs, Legos, or Erector sets – I loved them all. There is nothing better than taking some basic component and turning it into a creative masterpiece. Unfortunately however, if my appetite for ‘Tinkering with toys’ was expressed in terms of fine food, my creations were more similar to FISHSTICKS than FILET MIGNON.

I also liked little toy cars and airplanes but luckily I was just as capable as all other kids at making ‘motor’ and ‘gear shifting sounds’ – my parents were so proud (relieved). Now what’s sad is, when you get older, for some reason society generally thinks it’s kind of weird if you’re still playing with building blocks and big boy toys especially if your best work still smells of ‘minced fish’.

I’m not concerned though because as goofy as I am, you never have to look too far in this world to find people that are even weirder. While playing and dreaming with my Lego Mindstorms as an adult, I would have never imagined building structures using REAL plane parts. Even my most expensive building component might be $50 or so for a motor or oddball gear, but imagine tens of thousands of dollars for a retired plane fuselage PLUS shipping and architectural conversion.

You would figure that if somebody was thinking ahead, the freight on these babies would be cheap since they could fly themselves to the job site? I believe the irony would be particularly sweet if I made a bunch of these plane bodies into an enormous mobile or better yet a pinwheel. Oh no on second thought I get motion sickness far too easily for that – I’d have a shopping cart full of ‘sick sacks’ with just a whisp of wind. I guess I had better stick with my Legos and fish stick boxes as building blocks. If I play my cards right, I’ll be ready for those Banana Boxes beside the supermarket trash bin any day now. Gee,I don't know why but I'm suddenly feeling HUNGRY for really BAD food - I guess I'm a little NUTS or maybe just PLANE crazy?!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Camping never lights my fire

Despite my name being closely associated with the term ‘Camping’, I have not done as much of that activity as you might think. More than most people I enjoy smelling like the burning hair off of Smokey the bear and going to the bathroom in the woods, but I am a bit lazy and camping can be a lot of work.

Now it really shouldn’t be that hard if I would really go out into the forest and try to ‘rough it’ like Bear Grylls or our local hobos. But like most city folks, camping for us involves packing half of life’s modern conveniences powered by propane, batteries, or sweat into a cramped car, and driving hours on end to have FUN. I have to store all of that stuff too so with sleeping bags, pads, back packs, and gear - the entire attic looks like a really lousy Army/Navy store.

I honestly don’t mind camping but most of the time camping doesn’t like me. I am not suited for an activity that by necessity ends at dusk and all the insects and animals silently surrounding me would like at least a little taste of my blood. Except for the obligatory hour of burning marshmallows and getting a face full of wood smoke around a campfire, most of the time everyone heads for the tents when the sun goes down. Of course that is just when I am getting my 2nd wind so I typically will wander off and get lost in the woods and have to fend for myself until morning.

You see what REALLY bugs me that I can only make fire with matches and lighters. My real life quest for fire has included a stainless spoon as a reflector, various friction methods, and even a pair of glasses to make a focal point from the sun; but in the end I always resort to matches or I will be left out in the cold.

Once back at our home, I got a ’bee in my bonnet’ that I needed to learn to ‘make fire’ which is not an easy task in icy 20 degree windy weather. Undaunted, I hacked a tree limb down and made a spindle, a bow with twine, and cut a flat branch to drill into. I tried to use dryer lint for a starter nest and I made a spark and ember but like my love of camping, other than a LOT of smoke, the hard work NEVER lit my fire. I drilled away for close to an hour until my wife glared at me disapprovingly and told me to ‘take those stinky smoldering sticks and get OUT OF THE HOUSE!’ Gee I told you I’m a lousy camper and it was REALLY cold outside.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The unexpected treats of old age

I’m sure the first thing you assume when you read the title of this post is that I am about to complain ceaselessly about the rigor (mortis) of growing old. Yeah life is performance based, so it’s tough sometimes to not be able to dig ditches as deep or build crates as well. But I know with each click of life’s big clock, soon enough I will have to turn my grave-digging duties over to a much younger guy or ghoul.

With that said however, lately I have been concentrating on the genuine positives of being a little long in the tusk. Teeth for example, are one of those benefits because honestly who needs ‘em. I’m always spending time cleaning and polishing them just so I can eat an apple or a cob of corn to impress my dentist. You’d think I’m taking care of a fine Italian sports car instead of just your run of the mill ‘chompers’. When you get old, people expect you to have yellow eyes and yellow teeth. Anyway these days, I can get my apples out of a squeeze bag of sauce and the corns that aren’t on my feet come in a can - creamed!

I am also looking forward to shopping with one of those discount store scooters that I see everywhere now. Does anyone know if you need a license for one of these babies or can I hop on one and go for a test drive any OLD time. I do wish they had a bit more aggressive gear ratio so I could ‘pop wheelies’ or maybe just the kinks out of my back. Also a 12 volt lighter plug for a GPS might be nice so I can always locate the Pepto and the Prunes.

Oh and who can forget the ‘Geezer discounts’ at suppertime. Yes once you come of age, not only can you call dinner ‘supper’ but a lot of places even give you 10% or more off the price of pablum. Isn’t that great, not only do you get to skid your ‘tennis-balled’ walker over the cafeteria floors but even though you’re bulbous, bloated, and blue-haired – the food COSTS LESS!

Poor young people with all their barely-there underwear, pierced ‘pore-ifices’, and smutty talk – society constantly judges their flaws and talks behind their backs. Oldsters never need worry about those assaults on our self-esteem because we literally can’t HEAR or see anything. Look out world, I’m warming up my flannel ‘jammies’, hearing aid, and Coke-bottle glasses for an anti-social test-drive publicly near you. I know you’ve got a case of ‘age-envy’ by now, but someday your ship will come in too on a tidal wave of scary GRAY water. But don’t worry, thanks to ‘Depends’ - on a cold day, even THAT will be a warm and unexpected treat!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Dopey “Ipod-ostles”

Now I have never joined the exclusive club of the ‘I-FAD’ generation. I am aware of MP3 players and solid state memory which allows folks to buy and store thousands of songs if they want to, I just never understood the need? Aren’t all those songs available free on most any radio station? Once you listen to them a few times, isn’t it time to move on to the next new thing so why keep them all?

Have you ever noticed when you have so much choice, it is impossible to settle down and make a decision. So if your brain is like mine and you have a hundred cable channels on TV, you’ll always be wondering what is on the other 99 you’re NOT watching. I have this same problem at the market in the cereal aisle. The last time I CHECKED, just in Chex products alone, they have Wheat, Rice, Corn, and Bran products, along with sub-varieties of each like Honey Nut and Cinnamon. With all those healthy ‘checkie-choices’, when will I ever find room to fit in my Franken Berry and Count Chocula sugar fix?

With these modern music players I also don’t like those tiny ear plugs which have to be practically surgically installed into your ear canal. Is this good to have a constant din of loud music literally pounding away on your anvil with your hammer? I have never had a pair of these small earphones which is not tangled into a rat’s nest of knots. Mine always end up becoming baggie twist-ties rather than for their intended musical purpose. On the upside however, it is always easy to find a perfect fit for NEW earphones, because due to my lack of Q-tip hygiene, I always carry an EXACT ‘wax cast’ replica of my inner ear with me.

So sadly I guess I will now be classed as an old geezer since I have not joined the ranks of the loyal Ipod fan club. I think it’s rather funny though to want to be in this fad club since don’t only whales and furniture moving companies hang around in PODS? On second thought it makes sense though, because the last guy’s that moved the junk into my house were about the SIZE of whales. They were a little BACKWARD too, but you’ll be happy to know that they all had Ipods – in my opinion, that makes them ‘DOPI’!

Killing the selfish does not BUG me

I generally am not a squeamish person when it comes to bugs, blood, and most organics. I pretty much just disassociate myself when it comes to my home ‘bug killing’ duties and eliminate the interloper without a thought. It seems lately I am being tested regularly by a snake in the house last week and today some kind of BEETLE BUGS probably filled with gooey Fahrvergnügen.

Like anyone I still am not a fan of wandering through a forest and getting a face full of cobwebs glued to my hair, teeth, and chin. I also can be a bit of a ‘Ballerina Boy’ when a persistent bee, wasp, or horse fly won’t leave me alone. I am sure my neighbors have hidden video somewhere of me at the mailbox, dancing tight pirouettes lashing out at the air and all around my head trying to whack a seemingly invisible flying irritant.

Since we humans are literally tens of thousands times the size of even the biggest bug, I generally figure that insects should avoid us, not the other way around. Yet, more often than not some dumb bug will fly in my face of logic and demand a call to arms, nerve gas, or my wife’s favorite pancake spatula (and you thought those things were chocolate chips). I particularly hate those armor plated beetles who will calmly parade across the carpeted floor acting like they own the place. Funny around tax time every year, there is not a bug, bird, or mole to be found near this dump. But you can bet, after the bills are paid, and the BBQ starts coming out in the Spring, guess who shows up to dinner, a movie, and a quick spin around the fluorescent light on Friday nights?

When I find these marauders I generally try to kill them, though I do have a translucent trap for spiders and so-called beneficial bugs. I am not that ‘gentle’ really, it is just that if you kill a spider or ‘mini-Mothra” it leaves a big hairy brown smear on the wall. That may be fairly normal and OK in our bathroom, but there is no guarantee the bugs will use the restroom when it’s ‘killer time’. Those Kevlar-coated bugs irritate me when they hunker down in the fiber of the carpeting to avoid my shoe or exo-skeletal crushing coffee table book retribution. As soon as the pressure comes off, they get-up and start to run for the trees like out of some cheesy Vietnam era war film. Of course in those cases, it requires a more intimate kill, where I have to get down on my knees and take a tissue so I can FEEL the lethality of my death sentence.

I can’t win of course because as much as the wife does not like bugs in her house, she herself ‘bugs’ me to clean up all the dead bug-parts strewn all over the place. Unfortunately with some of these bugs when you get close and personal to exact enough pressure to end their evil ways, their buggy parts often go their separate ways too. It is a pain to have to pick up after bugs, since I have a hard enough time picking up after myself. You’d think since the bugs are living here rent-free, they would at least have the decency to grab the vacuum and help out once in awhile. I hate stupid, selfish, bugs!

Monday, September 13, 2010

‘Architecture Digested’ - Diapers follow Whiners

I am a genuine fan of architecture. Yeah, if you stir up blocks, brick, stone, and some mud to hold it all together, you’ll have every ingredient you need to fix up a soft and spongy brain just like mine. Now as terrifying as that sounds, you could instead use all that stuff in a more constructive manner to build a Pueblo, and I will probably like it. I enjoy iconic buildings that make an architectural statement so this is one discipline in my life where I often prefer, form to PRECEDE function.

In college, I researched many famous structures from the obligatory Wright disciplined design style, to Simon Rodia’s eclectic Watt’s Towers in Los Angeles. Still all that ‘high-brow’ construction doesn’t ‘MOVE’ me nearly as much as something like a hot dog stand in the shape of an ACTUAL hot dog. If you have ever had an ultra greasy wiener with chili on it, then you’ll understand my real meaning. I like the weird and wonderful of architecture including, water towers that look like catsup bottles, missle silos converted to homes, and even the occasional modern cave dwelling.

When Google Sketch was the new ‘CAD lite’ kid on the block, I drew up a concept for a new Las Vegas hotel – in the shape of a toilet. The pool deck in the middle was surrounded by a ring of conference rooms and the hotel tower was faced with an enormous fish tank. I thought the design had certain satirical benefits for a town started by mobsters in the middle of the desert, but oddly nobody wanted to build it, EVEN after I offered to pay for all of the Legos. I have family there and visit regularly so no need to send me nasty e-mails to tell me how misinformed I am.

In practical terms I will never be a real student of today’s architectural challenges. I don’t have any appreciation for calculating wind loads on buildings or constructing cookie cutter conforming structures that all cities seem to love. I can hire SMART people to do all that stuff, but in my perfect ‘pink bubble’ world, I want to only build structures that city municipalities don’t understand and therefore despise.

Maybe I just “rattle cages” and “cry out” to make a statement and get attention as an INDIVIDUAL in this cluttered, busy world. Wait, that’s no statement! CLEARLY, that’s just the relentless claptrap of a stupid giant ‘BABY’ whining in MY ‘crib’. Oops, I think I worked myself up into such a frothy lather, I’m well overdue for my hourly ‘diapey’ change. Hmmm, maybe there is something to that ‘Form follows Function’ stuff after all?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Public Servant's Plus-Sized Prows!

Believe me I have the utmost respect for the police and fire people and the job they do. Even on my best day I do not have the stamina or guts to carry out one of these ultra-risky jobs. With that said however, sometimes I wonder if when these PLUS-SIZE public servants were told they were ‘first responders’, they misunderstood and thought that meant it was for the buffet line.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not talking about your local cops that have had an extra donut or two and the Blueberry muffin top is just starting to peek over the bat-utility belt. I am referring to these full-on overgrown ‘Oompa-Loompas’ who would have trouble running to the elevator much less up a flight of stairs. I’m not saying big people can’t do demanding jobs. As long as these folks can meet the SAME physical training standards that everyone else meets in the same job, then bless their big-bagel hearts!

You see, I too have crushed my fair share of chairs so I have lived on both sides of the subject. When I was a young buck, I could bound up the side of a mountain, or paddle a river undaunted for hours on end and by nightfall be ready for more. But add 30 years and double that in poundage of brain-blubber, and I can tell you endurance activities like working in a Chilean mine,or scrubbing my nooks and crannies become a real challenge.

There is indeed something to be said for experience, but if you’re part of my team as a soldier, cop, or fireperson, I’m going to have much MORE to say about your physical readiness if my life depends on you. Though it rarely matters when all you do is pick-up the mail or stare at a laptop all day. I would be concerned however, if people’s lives depended on my physical PROWESS these days - because it’s clear that I have a ‘wittle WESS’ spring in my step, but a much bigger ‘PROW’ now!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

I’m one mixed up OLD DOG!

As I have gotten older I have started to worry that people will judge me when they find out that my DNA was hijacked by some sort of street dog. I am not completely sure what kind of dog yet, but I am fairly certain I’m a mangy, reincarnated ‘Chupacabra’ (goat sucker) mongrel mix instead of a high-brow fancy Purebred. Given the content of my usual blog posts and my propensity to eat, I am starting to lean towards some kind of rare BULLdog and CHOW mix.

Since I often curl up in some corner of the room for a nap, and I am unusually skilled with my hands at digging in the yard I have definite dog tendencies. I am constantly dog-breath challenged, prefer ‘collared’ shirts, and of all things I really enjoy canned hash. If you never have had the pleasure of eating this stuff, when you open the tin it looks and smells EXACTLY like dog food – YUM! But when it’s cooked up into a fattening crispy patty, my wife has to start shaking a can of pennies to scare me away from those delicious but caloric ‘Gains’ burgers.

I have mellowed and yellowed a bit as I have gotten older however. I don’t ‘bark’ orders as much as when I was young and rarely if ever, do I shred the Sunday paper before getting it INSIDE the house. Also, despite being raised by culturally challenged Appalachian wolves, I now have learned the joys of indoor plumbing. As long as there is the fragrantly musky scent of Pine Sol and Mountain DEW in the air to remind me of home, I’m happy!

I guess it’s true that I am more of an old loyal dog these days instead of a lean and mean junkyard scrapper. Apparently the wife has trained me well and has done an exceptional job at keeping a short leash on me. As a self-proclaimed ‘LAPtop’ dog I don’t mind it so much especially since being a ‘Setter’ is a job requirement for a blogger. I only wish someone could give me a few ‘Pointers’ on getting old though - since now, I am rapidly turning into a ‘GREYhound’!

Friday, September 10, 2010

‘Leaf’ me alone

Oh no, I can sense it is that time of year again. I’m too resilient to let a little cold weather on the horizon scare me, and I am too old to have to worry about youngsters heading back to school. So what is it that causes sweat to spontaneously break out on my brow, my spine to crawl, and my knees to turn to jello (or is that my gut) – millions of falling tree leaves of course.

Yes I love Nat King Cole and his ultra-smooth, wistful rendition of the Johnny Mercer classic tune, Autumn leaves, but that is as far as I go with my limited love affair with leaves. Leaves in the fall are akin to that car load of junk-foodie fat kids driving in front of you littering. You know those kids, they are the ones throwing an endless supply of Twinkie, Zinger, and Ding Dong wrappers out the car window, and that is just their shameless birth control packaging.

At the first hint of cooler temperatures, why is it ok for cowardly trees to turn ‘yellow’ and just spontaneously start casting off their outerwear everywhere? Funny, the whole world books expensive airplane tickets to see that show, but when I strip in public, people always run away in fear and call the cops? I also don’t know why I am expected to clean-up after trees when it is obvious that THEY were the ones who decided to BRANCH out and make a mess, not me.

Is this Mother Nature’s best effort at raising her spawn, by letting them ‘blow-off’ their responsibility and throw leafy caution to the wind, then expecting we earth immigrants to pick-up the grounds after them? I think it’s clear my trees need Nanny McPhee to set them straight, and stop my leaves from TURNING even further to the ‘bark’ side. So wish me luck over the next 6 weeks – I’ll be the guy being RESPONSIBLE and doing the heavy lifting for my lazy good- for-nothing trees. Yes it takes an awful lot of skill, character, and hard work to AIM a gas chipper and leaf blower into my neighbor’s yard!