Saturday, May 1, 2010

Bizzy Buzz Buzz Phone

My father recently reminded me of the 1960’s toy affectionately called the ‘Bizzy Buzz Buzz’. It is simply a battery operated pen tip that spins in tight concentric circles. It’s cute with a red plastic housing, shaped like a flying cartoon bug. It was made by Ohio Arts, the same people who make the timeless ‘Etch –a –Sketch’ drawing toy.

Now actually I originally had interest in this product due to its name. I happen to carry an irritating cell phone which ONLY vibrates and can no longer ring. Yes in the hub-bub of an average day, I have to “FEEL” an incoming call with a ‘bizzy buzz buzz’ in my pocket. Now obviously I am not a power cell phone user. Like the old joke , the only weather update I get on my phone is if it’s wet, then I know it’s raining; and when it’s warm – uh well it’s always warm ‘cause it’s always in my pocket. No matter where I am, I still routinely startle with an effeminate squeak when that foreign vibration assaults my thigh.

I keep my man-handling Buzz Buzz phone because it is cheap and offers free texting which is a rarity with newer phones. Other members of my family carry smart phones and as much as I love the functionality, the reality is I am usually available via land line. Further, my little mute phone costs about the same yearly as my daughter’s fancy smart phone runs in a single MONTH, and mine has a flashlight.
So at least my buzzy phone will turn concentric circles around high costs especially if trying to buy that ‘antique’ Buzzing Pen toy. In researching this post, I discovered a sycophant following of Bizzy Buzz Buzz lovers that would pay a lot for that buzzy bug toy?

Really? I just do not remember that pen as being all that engaging? I mean it was fine, but nothing like Legos or even Hasbro’s Spirograph for creative fun. I have linked the reminiscent bizzy buzz buzz page here for your review. I kind of wish I had one of those plastic buzzard toys to give these poor folks to help ‘complete’ them. I wonder if they would be just as happy with my buzzing bum phone if I taped a ballpoint pen to it?

Tattoo’s Special Taboos

Wow here is a subject that honestly I haven’t an ‘inkling’ of first-hand knowledge. However, I have never been a fan of visible body art for anyone who has to WORK for a living outside of a tattoo parlor. I personally am not drawn to people who feel compelled to write all over themselves instead of on a piece of vellum or canvas. This is probably from childhood because it was always the ‘special’ kids who drew on themselves, had crayon-laden orifices, and ate all the paste. I still have a tiny graphite point tattoo embedded under my skin from one of those kids.

Oh now I am in trouble. I am sounding too judgmental I know. Actually I am not in real life however. I remember talking to an extremely well-spoken gentleman on the phone and I agreed to meet him regarding some business. You can imagine my surprise when this towering wall of a man greets me in full black leathers, a red bandana, a long ponytail, and was covered in tattoos. Let me just say, if I met this guy in a dark alley somewhere, I would have required extra bleach for my ‘un-tidy whities’. But as soon as we tossed out the normal niceties and a formal handshake, I was again so impressed with this guy’s poise and demeanor. I admitted to him that at first blush he was scary by appearance alone but his true personality carried him well. He understood completely and said it (the tattoos) had become a problem in getting jobs and he wished he had been a bit more reserved when he was younger.

Don’t get me wrong, he LIKED his body art, he just wished that they were not the FIRST thing that defined his character to the outside world. I got that - we became friends and worked together for some years. What brought this memory forward was an Inside Edition story ( I know trash TV – I only watched it once I swear). That tattooed girl who broke up the James / Bullock marriage lamented her decision to EVER get any tattoos. She went on to say “ I wish someone would have told me” etc. etc.??? Now come on – your entire BODY is covered in tattoos. Why does anyone have to tell you that this is probably NOT a great idea?

Now honestly, I do not care if people, including me, like or dislike tattoos. If you are of age and feel ‘complete’ by somebody rubber stamping you for life with a tiny needle – then have at it. But don’t be shocked by societal judgments or discriminatory reactions when you have PURPOSELY gone out of your way to rebel and engender THOSE EXACT RESPONSES from us. In most cases, people like myself, don’t REALLY know your inner ‘nougat’ or have a lot of time to ponder your ulterior angst. All we have to go on is the advertising image you display on your outer wrapper. The reality is that in business, IMAGE and ADVERTISING are equally as important as quality. So when it comes to body art, simply follow the old cartoonist’s adage – “Think before you INK!” There now somebody HAS TOLD YOU! Don’t you feel special?

Friday, April 30, 2010

Trashy CAT Curiosity

No I am not talking about some soap opera that you tune into daily to see people publicly deride pets and embarrass themselves just for the sake of entertainment. I can do those things privately through the comfort of my blog so who needs TV? No I am talking about my genuine fascination with the automated ‘armed’ Caterpillar brand trash truck who visits our neighborhood weekly.

Though that is a fun mental picture to imagine a robot trash truck marauding our neighborhood packing weaponry along with trash – that’s not what I meant. We have a new trash service where a truck and HUMAN operator pulls up street-side and a hydraulic gripper arm reaches down and out to grab our trash can. The machine then lifts and inverts the can into the truck hopper; and then with amazing agility, re-deposits the can upright and empty to the curb.

Like the Wells Fargo wagon of lore, no matter where I am in the house, when I hear that truck approaching every week, I feel compelled to run and peek out the window to watch its progress. It matters not if I am in the middle of brushing my teeth, tying my shoes, or even if my pants aren’t yet fully zipped and engaged . I will rush, tripping and dripping, shedding clothing or leaping obstacles to get a clear view of that amazing ‘Tonka’ truck. Ok, you might think it’s a ‘GUY’ thing; that’s somewhat understandable – ONCE, but every time?

I hate to admit to the similarity of our brains, but we had a cat once who had the same reaction to flowing water. Even if she was nowhere to be seen deep in the woods, if a sump would start to evacuate or if you turned on a hose – in mere seconds, that cat would be 6 inches from the flow ready to pounce. It was very odd and in her case irritating too. She refused to drink from a BOWL of standing water like normal cats. We were forced to invest in an electric operated water well, where a small pump would circulate water continuously (yes they make such a thing for goofy cats). Fortunately, our fears were alleviated because, not only did the cat drink, but the pump was whisper-quiet so she was not permanently locked in a trance staring at the moving water.

Fortunately my robot trash-truck fetish has not progressed to such extreme need or irritation for my family – OH WAIT … did you HEAR that? Is that a ‘full eject’, 40 cube, tandem CAT trash-truck and Alison transmission … on OUR STREET? Let me get the binoculars – JUST to be sure.

Bred to love bread

Yeah I admit it – I love bread. I know it’s not the most health conscious thing to confess to these days, unless you are an athlete burning 6000 calories per day. Now, high protein, ultra low-carb diets are all the rage so there is little love for the loaf anymore. Still, if the growth of specialty sandwich shops is any indication, there are still quite a few of us bun-lovers whose devotion won't waffle to the irritatingly healthy naysayers.

My first foray into flour was when I was around 12 years of age. My father walked in the door after work with a gift for my mother of a bag of Sourdough starter. Dad had apparently purchased this goo from a friend in his office and seemed oddly proud of his acquisition. Like any pre-teen, my first reaction was to secretly snicker because by all appearances my father had just paid good money for a bag of PUKE. Despite the stuff’s weird smell, my parents assured me it was valuable containing yeast, flour, water, and a little sugar. With a little care and feeding (literally) it would unlock the ‘secrets of the sourdough’ where bacteria meets baking – Oh boy?

As you can imagine, the resultant sourdough loaf from that first experience was amazingly delicious and I was hooked … yes I’ll say it out loud – I had a Yeast AFFECTION. Aside from dabbling in donuts on Sunday mornings with a cup of coffee, my professional life with bread did not begin until 8 years later while in college. I learned to make many types of bread and experiment with varying amounts of yeast and dough varietals. Usually I was paired with a journeyman baker so I was restricted to the mundane white, wheat, rye, Italian, squaw etc. The older bakers had long lost their desire to play with their food but they helped me every day to become a better baker. Quality was not a catch-phrase with these folks, it was a religion. Within 6 months I was the only apprentice baker to receive a recurring solo shift on Sunday mornings – the slowest day of the week. Still it was MY day to be in the driver’s seat and I took every advantage to FLOUR and germinate my love of the oven.

The poor customers on Sunday’s never knew what to expect. The addition of blue, yellow, and red, food coloring to the proofing process, would combine and create ‘CIRCUS BREAD’ when cut open. I would wrap a continuous snake of Danish dough so that when baked it would expand skyward to form a cone I dubbed the ‘Cinnamon Tower’. I would mix wheat dough in a distinctive ‘S’ pattern encapsulated in a shell of white dough. When two small loaves were baked together it would form the yeasty lobes of “BRAIN BREAD”. The owner NEVER restricted my creativity as long as I always completed the standard production schedule FIRST and basically could get the ‘Deli’ girls to sell whatever other weird stuff I made. Let’s just say I had to ‘buy’ more than a few odd creations in that job to keep my boss happy. He understood though – he was a former baker too so he never panned my efforts - I guess he knew it was to be expected when you are clearly “IN-BREAD”.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Beds – a royal pain

Beds and I do not always get along. I’m not sure quite why that is but I have always been a bit of a vampire. It is not that I don’t sleep, it is just that I don’t sleep where I am supposed to. I might sleep on a chair, couch, floor or random laundry machine; as long as I have something soft for the head and somebody to steer the car, I can sleep almost anywhere. My bed is inviting as well as comfortable and big enough, but it still doesn’t seem to exactly fit?

That’s the other thing – why are the bigger beds called KING and QUEEN, and then magically we toss out the deck of cards and switch away to the very ‘non-Royal’ terminology of FULL or DOUBLE. Clearly, somebody was consuming alcohol when they named the TWIN bed for a SINGLE because those terms are exact opposites of each other? Why do some beds like mine, have rails, while other adult beds do not? Why do we only bunk twin beds instead of King or Queens. Can you imagine the HORROR of trying to make a King bunk bed?

THAT is part of my problem - making the bed. I will begrudgingly make it because I can’t stand the look of a disheveled bed. Of course as soon as you even get near it, much less get into it, it’s instantaneously wrinkled and the sheets and pillows are sliding off the edge. Why is it that except for twin sheets, all the other beds are ALMOST square but not quite? So when trying to make a bed, I will always choose the wrong side of the rectangle. I won’t know it until I am almost done, but there will be plenty of sheet from head to toe, but only enough to tuck in ONE side.

And what’s the deal with the ‘Extra Long’ bedding and that meaningless ‘CALIFORNIA QUEEN’. I even used to live in California and nobody knew what it meant. Yes, it is supposed to be a few inches longer or wider but who can tell and who can remember except bed bugs and salespeople? When I think of the words “California” and “Queen” together, frankly beds are not the first image that comes to mind. Why not continue the whole regal naming thing instead with something like PRINCE, DUCHESS, or my favorite for those vibrating beds, the SHAKESPEARE! Nah, by the time they get back to naming beds after decks of cards, the only one that will truly SUIT me will be the JOKER!

Remotely in Control

Have you ever noticed that pile of remotes that have built up on your coffee table? Now I am not one of those people who is going to lament the ‘remote revolution’ over the last couple of decades. Because I remember the early days without those little button butlers at my beck and call. I had to get up and actually touch the devices that I wanted to do something. That was work and I am nothing if not lazy.

The very first TV that my wife and I bought in 1982 was from a pawn shop and it came with a remote. It included a second generation ultrasonic keypad remote to do my bidding. The previous models simply had up and down buttons for volume and another pair for up and down channel surfing. Sounds unsophisticated by today’s standards, but honestly you always knew what each button did as compared to remote control devices of today. Now remotes compete for ‘universal’ functionality and are a minefield of 30 to 50 tiny buttons that require eagle-eye vision to read and a ‘programming’ book to use.

I have grown fond of my overhead fan remote. It has three speeds, a light switch and an off button. That is probably about 3 more buttons than I generally need but at least it is approaching simplicity. Garage door openers all used to be really simple with one big button to push for open and again to close. Now even those are getting messed up with 3 individual door controls, a light switch, and maybe an extra device switch. I have steam showers in my house that have remotes that are so complex no guests want to take showers or baths. Now I think that STINKS, on a number of levels don’t you?

Why does everything have to become so sophisticated that it is confusing again – I am clearly feeling OUT of control with my remotes. No I do not want to go back to the good old days of unlocking my car by hand or getting up from my reclined comfort to mute the TV with greasy ‘Frito fingers’. I like my remotes, I just wish that they would like me back. Maybe eventually ‘voice command’ will finally solve the simplicity problem? However, I am not sure my future guests will appreciate being told by a universal remote to “TAKE A SHOWER … PLEASE”!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

AZ Immigration law – a WIN-WIN

I was not surprised that the Arizona immigration law passed a public vote. I was marginally surprised that the Governor signed the bill into law. The national media is aghast at the perceived insensitivities of Arizona, but they are not living there and do not face the daily burdens of border problems and unchecked illegal immigration. Despite the hub bub, this law has less to do with race and more to do with money – STATE money and services that are being drained during tough times.

I am not a fan of this new law ONLY because I think it puts already over-burdened law enforcement agencies in between an unbearable rock and an even harder hard place. The most troubling provision is that private citizens can pursue LEGAL action against law enforcement if there is a presumption that the new law is not being enforced. So the average Joe cop will be sued by every legal aid attorney for racial profiling, as soon as he attempts to ask a legal resident to produce papers and enforce the law. At the same time, if the same officer is NOT asking suspected illegal aliens for papers, legal residents may initiate legal action against him for NOT enforcing State mandated law.

As for Arizona’s desire to ENFORCE legal immigration across its border – since the Federal government has failed to control the problem, what should states like Arizona, California, and Texas do? These states are disproportionally affected by immigration issues as compared to most others. They have a flood of illegal immigrants whose kids attend schools and whose families use emergency local medical services. Most of us do not have a problem with LEGAL IMMIGRATION. My general feeling is, get in line and wait your turn along with the hundreds of thousands of others that have waited years for a chance to legally enter the country. Again this has NOTHING to do with race for 99% of us. Even if blond haired and blue eyed Swedes were flowing into the country illegally, Arizona and most Americans would complain and demand action from its government.

The real irony over all of this is that within 25 miles of the Southern border currently, law enforcement has had the right FOR YEARS by law to stop anyone WITHOUT CAUSE to confirm legal residency. Even my daughter, with blond hair and a Cardinal red car that conceals nothing, has been stopped in Texas for an immigration check. She did not lay an egg, nor was she offended at all. She was simply surprised and cooperative as most legal residents will be. I find it unhelpful that ‘outsiders’ have called for a boycott of Arizona’s businesses and tourism. This is patently unfair to ALL of the people of Arizona and any sovereign state trying to deal with tough local realities especially when put to a vote of the people.

The solution to all of this is simple enough – ENFORCE current law at the Federal level and new reactionary laws like Arizona’s will prove unnecessary and redundant. Until then or when Purgatory gets a lot colder, if you are in Arizona illegally, you may want to consider an address change. Try the Golden State first and join San Francisco’s proposed boycott on Arizona business. I think the legal residents of Arizona will appreciate your help in plugging up the burden on their cops and resources. And best of all, your illegal presence and valuable contributions will surely help California’s booming economy avoid bankruptcy right? Now that’s what I call a Win-Win deal!

Free Pretzel Assault

Yes today, good fortune cast its fickle shadow over my way for a change. No I am not a sad sack constantly waiting for the next shoe to drop, but like most folks I appreciate free stuff when I can get it. Today while attending a lacrosse game, the snack bar boss offered me two free GIANT pretzels on my way out to the car. I was suspicious at first but I am a regular Diet Coke patron, so I dismissed any clandestine thoughts of a ‘quid pro quo’ pretzel contract.

The pretzels were still warm and smelled great. With the kid off to college and the wife out of town, I was momentarily sad that I had no one to share my special lottery moment. However that feeling passed after I froze one for a later binge, and finally bit into the other ‘pretz’ with gusto. Honestly, it could have tasted like dirt and it still would have been great because it was free!

Now I did have one tiny complaint about the giant pretzels. Who decided that it was a good idea to cover these things in a layer of rock salt? Just because they are big pretzels does not mean that good old fashioned ordinary-sized salt is too small. Have the people that make these things ever tasted salt – just as advertised, even a few grains tastes SALTY! I mean these pretzel chunks of salt could melt a bag of frozen peas all the way back to their vine pods.

Well who am I to be choosy. This is one beggar who can handle a little high blood pressure in the name of free food. I’m 'knot' afraid of Sodium or Chloride even when paired up into giant blocks of deer lick on my twisted baked goods. Who knows, those pretzels may come in handy someday – especially if I need to clear up an icy driveway!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The "UN-loved" nest

As much as I appreciate the benefits of Spring, I am not in love with all of the nests that creatures start to fabricate this time of year. I guess it would not be as big of deal if they would just find somewhere else to practice their construction skills other than in my stuff and on my house.

I used to have a porch light by the front door of my home. Every year, I would have to be vigilant daily to knock down a few errant sticks or else within a week, some bird would startle me every time I opened the door. They would flap in my face loudly as they flew away in fear. Yeah I’m bigger than them but I have a general policy NOT to disturb nests once they are fully formed, so the birds had nothing to worry about. I have since eliminated the bird problem by getting rid of the light and installing two overhead ‘can’ lights for porch illumination. Stupid creatures can try to mess with me but I’ll ALWAYS win.

This year, probably to spite me, before I knew it, a sparrow had built a nest in a small hole in my Bar-B-Que cover. Ok, it was my fault for not fixing the cover right away - who knew that there are tangible benefits from being so UNHOLY? But still, Spring has not even fully sprung yet and now my bar-b-que is out of commission for at least a month or two until the hatchlings go off to college. Worse yet, the mother bird must have some anger-management issues, because she’ll sit atop the bar-b-que screaming and carrying-on. It’s no wonder her husband is never around. I don’t want to be around either but the grill sits just outside the window where I try to work quietly on the computer.

To add to my blossoming Spring frustrations, inexplicably for the first time, the wasps seem to want to build a nest INSIDE my mailbox. Now I am not saying these insects are dumb, but even a modicum of reconnaissance would tell you that particular spot is DISTURBED at least twice daily by humans. Of course every time I open the box to retrieve my mail, a bunch of dumb mud wasps dart out and make me jump. Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you … those can lights over the porch – NOW the wasps call those home too. Though I’ve never have been stung or pecked by anything with its own nest, living here is clearly bad for my mental health and making me feel unloved. These springy creatures are smart and they ‘bug’ me relentlessly to try and drive me away from my ‘Nest sweet Nest’ – I’ll never win.

Smart people never recycle

Hey I know it is smart to re-use and recycle. I try to do it as much as I can. I even have a washed out a parmesan cheese container in the garage and filled it full of screws. I liked it because I could shake out just the amount I need. I’m glad a pizza was not around – I wonder how many calories are in a 1 inch drywall screw? My wife when she catches me looks particularly disgusted when I rinse off the coffee grounds from one of those 1 cent paper filters. No I am not that cheap – I’m a good guy trying to save another ‘Filter’ tree from being cut down. Actually I recycle those filters mostly because I am lazy. Once they are wet, they conform to the weird shape of the coffee pot easier than a new dry one.

We still collect aluminum cans for our local high school science department. Even though it seems like just a few cents from cans, over the years, I saw that they had purchased a full set of human skull facsimiles for their labs. There is nothing better for High school students than BONE HEADS right? We also collect aluminum tabs from cans and give them to Ronald McDonald house. Some McDonalds still have collection points and it is a fairly easy way to recycle for charity that does not take up a lot of space.

Now, I have a list of things that I DO NOT recycle. No I am not being a Grinch, but I am always a bit sensitive about data and you should be too. That means, hard drives are out. Honestly if you are done with that 40 meg archaic hard drive either just keep it when you donate your computer or unscrew the housing and physically destroy the disk plates inside. You can drill through them or bend them or scrawl all over them with a knife but PHYSICALLY break your hard disks before throwing them away. There are many programs that will help you ‘erase’ your disk, but in most cases a dedicated hacker with some time and knowledge may be able to dissect an operable drive and recover private data from basic erase programs. For any thumb drives, SD cards or other solid state memory, with financial data or other sensitive stuff like health files - I would destroy those too over trying to erase them.

Now given the reality that you may want to SELL a complete computer instead of giving it away, I have linked Disk Doctor’s file shredder program here. If you are passing your hard drive on to a relative or close friend, this program is generally highly regarded and will allow you to ‘clean’ your physical drives effectively. It costs $49 so it is inexpensive when selling lots of computer hardware, but again at the cost of new storage these days, it may be a better option just to buy Granny or your nephew a new hard drive for that same $50? So go ahead, recycle and reuse whatever you can, but do yourself a favor and store your hard drive’s spare parts in your recycled parmesan cheese containers. It’s what the smart people would do!

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Junk Drawer

Everyone has the ubiquitous junk drawer. You know, that first drawer in the kitchen near the phone, stuffed beyond capacity – yeah that’s it. I actually have two junk drawers, but the bedroom one is where I keep all of my underwear (a little ‘street’ humor … must have been that ‘Ripple’ smoothie I had for breakfast). Yes junk drawers are a staple at every place I have ever lived. In fact as I dig through mine now, I DO have some staples in here, along with some buttons, paper clips and everyone’s favorite – the MULTI-TOOL.

The multi-tool is code for a tool in its prerequisite ‘leatherette’ pouch, that can universally do the jobs of a slew of other tools. BUT the crux is, the multi-tool is bulky, hard to manipulate and not a great first choice to do any task well. You still have to have one of these in a junk drawer though, because as I like to say to my wife “There is no job worth doing, that I can try to do poorly”.

Digging around in the drawer, I found a ping pong ball that looks like a tiny soccer ball. Hmmm – interesting indeed, but I do not know how to play soccer? Ooooh, now here is something invaluable, an electronic whistle. Instead of blowing a time-tested maintenance-free $2 pea whistle, I have a pricey electronic version which requires batteries. I’m clearly so smart with my money, I should try to get elected to Congress so I can spend yours instead! Oh look here, if I’m going into politics, then you know at times I’ll have a lightning-quick need to gamble – I found a single blue poker chip and a pair of dice in my junk drawer. Gee, I can’t explain it, all this stuff just makes me think of Craps?

Ok, now don’t get me wrong, some of the contents in the junk drawer are useful. I actually put my keys and checkbook in there next to the springs, rubber bands and red pens. Come to think of it though, that’s probably not good ‘mojo’ to put checks in close contact with red ink and things that bounce? I did find some promotion coupons from cereal boxes which I did not know I had. This made me very happy because I am only one coupon, and $3.95 shipping away now from getting a FREE … oh no I can’t believe it – a stinking MULTI-TOOL? I give up – when’s lunch? It’s 8:30AM now so – CLOSE ENOUGH … I need another smoothie STAT!

In a Jiffy

I recently had the opportunity to give my wife a gift. Now this was not a big fancy gift and in fact I had not even wrapped it. In one of her quests into the dark parts of our home, she happily produced a “Jiffy Pot” greenhouse kit which she had thought was a ‘forgotten’ gift received some time ago. I was not mad or particularly concerned at the premature uncovering of the gift. It’s HER gift – so as long as it gets to the correct recipient then I am happy. Plus after many years of various gift giving rituals and obligatory occasions, my wife and I are long past worrying needlessly about such formalities.

Now if you are not familiar with Jiffy pots, they are basically a small pod consisting of compressed peat and potting soil. The idea is to add water and the pods expand to a small cylinder about 2 inches tall by just over an inch in diameter. Gardening in a ‘Jiffy’ is achieved as you water, stick a seed of your choosing in the middle of each pod and snap on a clear cover to simulate a miniature greenhouse. For $6 -$7 at your local retailer or nursery, Jiffy Pots are really quite helpful in starting plants toward healthy germination even if you are all thumbs, green or otherwise.

My wife eagerly planted all of the 50 mini greenhouse pods with a variety of veggies and flowers. I was amazed at how fast the whole process is. Within days, not weeks, the seeds germinated and started breaking through the soil. I simply provide a touch of water every couple of days on each pod and a lighted corner to let plant biology do its thing. It’s nice when things work as advertised and expected.

In fact, most of my experiences with the word “Jiffy” have turned out pretty well. Even now with microwave popcorn of every flavor in abundance at the market, I still have to buy a Jiffy Pop handled pan to cook directly over my stove once in awhile. There is something excitingly youthful about watching that foil turbin expand with its delicious aromatic contents. Jif Peanut Butter has seemed to fulfill its destiny pretty well too. The Smuckers set swear by the stuff ( ‘cause they OWN the brand), but I still prefer Peter Pan on my celery – I guess some guys never grow up? Nobody knows the origins of the idiom “In a Jif or In a Jiffy”. It is thought to originate from good old England around the mid 18th century. That makes sense as it just has that ‘oh so proper’ British lilt to it doesn’t it? Ok, I admit it ‘who cares?’ – Jiffy is an ‘iffy’ topic to be sure. I need to get back to my wife’s fast growing seedlings anyway. Because you know, at this rate, they LITERALLY will be ready to plant - in a Jiffy!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

My favorite weather

I enjoy most flavors of weather. Yeah I am one of those weird people who does not need perfect weather all of the time. I can take most anything the sky can dish out if it is in short spurts. In the Midwest I usually get at a thrill or two per year where we’ll see a 50 degree temperature differential in a single day. I of course do not like weather to threaten people or property, but even the nasty stuff like tornadoes and hurricanes are mesmerizing to witness from afar as they menacingly crescendo with unbelievable power.

I’m not insensitive to the genuine danger or destruction that nature can dish out. Members of my own family and myself have suffered both financially and physically from wind, floods, fires, earthquakes, lightning and falling trees. Those events were trying to say the least but ultimately they only reinforced my genuine awe in the power of nature.

Probably if pushed for the type of weather I like least it would be the wind. I am not talking about a Hawaiian breeze out on the lanai, I am referring to the relentless howling blow that won’t quit. Wind naturally accompanies most pressure differential events so I’ve learned to accept a certain amount of the stuff to enjoy an exciting thunderstorm or experience the beauty of a desert. I also love hearing the big flat leaves of the Aspen or gum trees rattling in the breeze and watching the towering cottonwood trees at our home sway back and forth hypnotically.

Like most people, as I have gotten older the snow too is a bit taxing, since dressing for it and moving it around are major chores. It actually is quite enjoyable and beautiful for the first couple of times per season. I never tire of simply walking outside during the first major snowfall of the year and listening for ‘NOTHING’. The white stuff insulates so well and these days I find the absence of sound in the Winter can be just as alluring as the birds, trees, and bustle of activity in the Spring. Yeah it’s lucky I love the weather so much, after all I have to, I live in Missouri – warm breeze, 3 tornado warnings and hail yesterday; bright sunshine, cold winds and rain today. Who knows what tomorrow’s weather will bring - that’s what I call PERFECT!

Field Sports – a BOON for healthcare

In the Fall, I work with students on a golf team. In all my years of playing and watching kids play, I have never seen a serious injury other than a few bruised egos with a triple bogey or two. I have never hit anyone with a golf ball, though I have thought about it a few times to speed up play. In the Spring, I coach for a High School girls lacrosse team. Yes lacrosse is a tough sport all around, but the girl’s play a civilized version of the game without pads or purposeful violence. Despite that fact, with my team alone, we are making local doctors and orthopedic healthcare specialists rich!

Routinely we field three teams a year with about 20 players on a squad. By the time training begins in earnest we will lose 20% for any number of reasons – remember this is high school. By mid-season, I usually will have racked up a few sprained ankles, some bruises and knee aches and at least one concussion. By the last quarter of the season of an 18 game schedule, we begin having trouble fielding three independent teams and players start subbing up. In the last two years our injury stats now sound like a famous Christmas song – 8 sprained ankles not leaping; 5 concussions not thinking; 3 broken feet a smelling; 2 broken fingers taped together; and a broken arm, in an arm sling.

Yes field sports like soccer, football, lacrosse, and field hockey really rack up the abuse on our kids and their parent’s insurance claims. I have not even bothered to compile statistics on other mundane injuries and health issues like general joint pain, bruising, asthma, headaches, back pain, rashes, and minor boo boo band-aids for blisters and the like. Our team alone is a boon or bust for the healthcare economy depending on how you look at it. I wonder how many new pairs of arch supports, shoes, and cleats our kids have bought over the years to stay in our program? How many GP’s are seeing my kid’s on a regular basis to make sure their casts are still on and the kid’s injuries are healing as expected?

Now I only bring this all up because it appears, given America’s current healthcare trajectory, that EVERYONE eventually will share in everyone else’s healthcare needs collectively. So whether you appreciate field sports or not and their inherent higher risk of injury, some of your money will help cover my athletes expensive rehabilitation. Now while I sincerely appreciate YOUR generosity, I am just not completely sure if I or the rest of America is as equally charitable as you. I personally don’t really want to pay even a thin dime for people who lead risky lifestyles like smoking, drugs, alcohol, obesity and DEMANDING SPORTS. So keep my lacrosse girls in mind the next time you visit the doctor. They are partially responsible for creating a genuine boon for healthcare – a BOONDOGGLE that is!