Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Theater at HOME

I have never completely understood the term Theater Seating, especially when it comes to high-end home furniture installations. Even in the best theaters I have been in, for the price of admission I usually get a slightly soft, stained, springy, upright red velour seat with the obligatory cup holder in one armrest. I mean they are fine chairs really but they are definitely NOT full sized recliners made of luxurious suede and rich Corinthian leatherette?

Now all the rage is to take any TV bigger than a bread box and stick a row of reclining chairs on steroids in front of it and call it a ‘Home Theater’. Who really wants this? First off, I don’t know about you or your budget, but nobody, NOT EVEN ME, is worth a piece of furniture that costs around $800 a seat! I’ll just stand up at my Super Bowl party, and you can hold your own dumb cup of punch as long as I can save a wheelbarrow full of cash.

If you want the true theater experience, then just go to the kitchen and dump all of your trash out on your living room floor and then sit there and watch a movie. But first make sure you strategically place your kid, wife, or dog somewhere in front of you so their big heads block at least some of your view of the screen no matter how you gyrate to see. Don’t forget to invite over at least two friends with a colicky baby or two. It is important to give your home theater that realistic sound of REAL crybabies in genuine Dolby stereo surround sound.

All of your guest ‘babies’ at your Home Theater will demand popcorn. These days all you’ll be serving is corn hulls from those greasy microwave bags. If you are adventuresome and still have a gas-topped stove you can try to pop a foil hernia of Jiffy Pop over the flame but it can’t compare to the real theater stuff. That cholesterol-laden coconut oil, popcorn bucket at the theater is ALMOST worth the ticket price alone. And oh yeah, don’t forget that armrest cup holder and stained chair – by Home Theater standards, that should only set you back another $780 or so. What a bargain?

Tangled Wire Tango

I have come to accept that we all live in a wired world. Even with a cell phone in every pocket and a WIFI McDonalds on every corner, life still runs mostly on wires, cables, and a lot of pulled strings. Now the wild ways of wires, like dancing, confounds me a bit. Because no matter where I am or what wired thing I am using, it will always get TANGLED.

Ok, mock me if you want, but think about it a minute. Have you ever pulled out a pair of headphones to your phone or computer and then set them down even for a microsecond? They will instantly come up in a tangled mess. This is especially true of those ultra-light tiny ear buds. If you accidently move or swing them carelessly, they will TWIST and WRAP faster than ‘Chubby Checker’ and ‘Lil Kim’ in a tetherball tourney.

In my entire life I have never mastered how to dance with the desk-phone handset’s coiled wire, yet keep it from twisting back on itself like an irritating ball of amorous snakes. I cannot remember how often I have gone to answer the phone and that now short coiled ‘rats-nest’ pulls the WHOLE stupid phone to the floor. Vacuum cords try to help with that convenient clip that lets you take off the whole handful of looped power cord at once. But again as soon as you start to tug on that pack, it will bind and pull the whole vac over before the plug reaches the wall outlet.

Outside there are a host of things that may not be wires technically but they are functionally just as prone to the tangling two-step. No matter how I try to cast or reel in fishing line, it will find a way to bunch up on the reel in knots. To make matters worse the line’s slimy and will drag up some fungi or other random flotsam to ensure dirty dancing and complicate recovery. Hose reels, Pressure washers, extension cords, cable, string, and even CHAIN – you name it … all of them are out to get me and will coyly test my coiling cognition. So until wireless TRULY takes over the world, WIRED life will still rule the roost. However, speaking as one who frequently trots in lock step to the ‘tangled tango’, I can assure you my dance card is full!

Friday, May 7, 2010

When Studio Art Was KING!

Since my Dad was a cartoonist and commercial artist growing up, I was exposed to a lot of different kinds of creative mediums in the world of art. My father would always have interesting equipment in his studio along with a project or two I could mess with or see in action. Of course like any kid, I particularly liked the little mannequin you could bend in any direction to simulate movement, and hence draw that posture. I loved the wonders of tracing over a light table and from an opaque projector. I could stick any little object under that lamp and project a 5 foot image of it on the wall.

My Dad spent a lot of time showing me how to rule lines and practice straight lettering. At a fairly early age, I could do paste-up copy for my own school projects and make a decent masthead for any kind of poster. It always seemed that we were messing with something new. I remember buying and mixing resins, hardeners, and dyes to cast small sculptures out of rubber molds. For awhile we got on the kick of carving linoleum blocks with sharp tools to make book plates, or just little prints for fun. I was the only kid in school to have a rubber stamp with my name on it to identify my papers. I liked that.

Some of my fondest memories of the world of art revolved around printing and the graphic arts. My parents fed my interest by purchasing me my own hand operated letterpress. I would eventually print stationary on that press and sell it as a small entrepreneurial enterprise. Later even though I did not have any other industrial art experience, in High school, I had the run of the print shop. I was in heaven with a full photo lab for offset plate processing, a giant letterpress, and a huge Heidelberg web press for the school newspaper. Eventually the school sold off its older Multilith 1000 in favor of a new AB Dick 360. I bought that machine and it was my first offset press inside my parent’s garage.

I dabbled in screen printing after that and always maintained an interest in art and publishing, however life’s demanding needs started to catch up with having fun by college. Before I had graduated, the personal computer revolution started to take hold. I mastered Xerox’s Ventura Publisher software, and though as flawed as it was, I suddenly had no need for typesetters, artists, masthead men, paste-up pros or messy ink. I could do all that stuff for myself in just hours (now just seconds). I could write, edit, and print my own company publications at will so who needed studio graphics skills anymore? I appreciate the flexibility, reduction in equipment to buy and maintain, and the speed of today’s computers. I like getting a job done professionally by myself and on my own timetable. But I have to admit, when the work is done and there’s time to reflect – I do miss those very special days when Studio Art was KING!

‘Cents-less’ Pennies

The common penny albeit almost an irritant today found its origins in Britain around 800 AD when it was first minted in silver. I kind of wish I had a few of those around the house rather than the thousands of hybrid zinc and copper dudes in my jar today. Yes It has been a long road for the penny since Ben Franklin’s large cent ‘Coppers’ of 1793. Until just recently, for my entire life I have grown up with the ‘Lincoln Memorial’ on the reverse of the penny, though the Wheat, Indian Head, and Flying cents were just as popular in their respective eras.

The modern penny’s composition has varied between bronze, brass, to the least expensive copper plated zinc of today. The primary reason this is of interest to me is that I used to do a lot of metal detecting. Pre-1982 pennies will last nearly in perpetuity in acidic soils, whereas after 1982, 97% zinc pennies will begin to corrode away in as little as 10 to 15 years. Further, pre-1982 pennies are valued by elongated penny collectors because when squished, the penny remains entirely brass colored without the silvery zinc interior showing through a post-1982 penny.

But what bothers me most now, is in the last two years, the U.S. Mint has released 4 Lincoln Bicentennial reverse designs in addition to the Union Shield reverse - the 2010 new standard. So think of it, since the advent of the ‘small cent’ in 1856 there have only been 4 reverse designs TOTAL until very recently. In a mere two years, the government has more than DOUBLED the penny’s backside designs floating around out there for me my fellow metal detector fans. I don’t know about your ‘backside’, but I think Lincoln’s has served him pretty reliably for the last half century.

Don’t get me wrong, I basically think all the penny reverse designs are attractive. But there are so many now, I honestly am never sure if I am paying with a Canadian penny, a counterfeit U.S. penny, or a brass button? Once again, something I grew up with which required absolutely no thinking has now become a complex agitation to my tiny brain. Hmmm, Maybe if I keep ‘putting down’ all of these pretty penny designs, life will finally ‘knock some CENTS into me’! What do you know? I guess it IS true that every cloud has a ZINC lining.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Dental is all mental

Visiting the dentist is no longer as scary as I remember it to be when I was young. In those days, I never got used to the rubber dams that the Doc would somehow shove in my mouth. They were used to help keep debris from my throat as he cleaned teeth. That was pre suction-wand days and before most dentists had helper techs and hygienists on staff. The dentist chair was kind of scary too, as all of his instruments of torture surrounded you and were piled up on a small table. I would stare at those picks and scrapers and they would mock me with their potential to inflict pain. Dentists have done a good job to eliminate a lot of that kind of fear these days but now as an adult, a visit to dentist is more taxing to me mentally than on my teeth.

It takes days if not weeks of thoughtful preparation to go to the dentist. Yes I know we are supposed to floss every day but I am lucky if I remember to floss every week. Even then, my hygiene is usually inadvertently achieved with a side dish of tooth-trapped asparagus. So the days leading up to a dentist appointment, I have to make up for lost floss-time by aggressively flossing anywhere I can. Of course the floss fibers will shred between teeth and the process can be hard on the gums so sometimes they bleed. I look like Dracula after missing the mark and biting into a snow parka. I hack, clear my throat, and try to release the stringy stuff from my teeth with my tongue. You can imagine the fearful looks I get in public, while imitating a cat coughing up a hairball with bloody gums. You might as well stick bolts in my neck and chase me with fire – it won’t make a difference.

I must eliminate popcorn from my diet for a week prior to a dentist visit. There is nothing more embarrassing than some tooth-fairy cleaning tech, pulling hulls out of your teeth when you KNOW you haven’t had popcorn for at least two days. “I swear I brush – you gotta believe me!” But sometimes those translucent hulls will cup a tooth so perfectly that they defy brushing and definitely visual inspection to the untrained eye. Prior to the dentist visit, I’ll brush in the morning and then re-brush again before getting in the car mostly because after minutes, the minty smell wears off and I don’t want to offend the hygienist. The same goes for deodorant and any other stuff to mask my natural ‘dirt’ ardor.

This appointment is stupidly at 9AM so I am particularly mindful to all the other morning libations which make one presentable. Got to shave extra careful but not so close as to cause razor burn. Must clear those little ‘crusties’ out of the corners of the eyes. I ALWAYS double check the ears and nose too for little ‘bundles of wonder’ which can draw unwanted attention when your head is upside down in the dentist’s lap. Today is particularly special since I got sunburned over the weekend. Oddly, the lower half of my hairline is peeling in bright pink patches but my brow-line is intact and tan. Leprosy victims would engender more respect than me, as my cranium sloughs off frighteningly large chunks of glazed skin, with even the most moderate of head turns. Poor dentists – dental school never told them this how they might begin their day. The good news is that the dental visit preparations, while long and mentally draining on me, are no longer scary anymore. The sad part though . . . is the dentist’s people are NOW scared of me!

Their World – My Rules

As Spring finds its stride and Summer warms up ‘on deck’, I kind of just stared out the window in awe of all the activity going on outside. No I am not talking about kids playing, or the mailman, or somebody mowing a lawn, I am referring to all the insects, bugs, birds, and everything else that has nothing to do with humans. It was amazing as I began to delineate each activity and its proximity to other busy activities, all happening among nature simultaneously. Somebody clearly had explained the rules to everyone else but me and I was on the outs.

Yes, for a few minutes I felt like I was cast in a Pixar animated film, as all of these creatures seemed lost in purpose, running around doing ‘something’ far more important than I was. They were clearly busy and not wasting time staring outwardly back at me or caring what I thought. My activities seem important to me too, but I wondered if the insects and birds would think so if they took the time to consider them?

I noticed a spider had basically built a web overnight directly spanning the middle of the window where my computer sits. It danced in the breeze and seemed geometrically perfect except for one odd corner that somehow had missed quality control. A cloud of swarming gnats hovered in a holding pattern ‘round and ‘round out in the middle of the yard. I could see them easily as a ray of sunshine lighted the column of miniscule flyers in an impossibly close formation against the dark forest. I heard the squawking of my friend, the sparrow mother, who has taken up residence in my bar-b-que cover. But this time she was frustrated because a garden snake of some sort poked his head about eight inches out of the nest and hole she formerly called home and apparently neglected to protect.

Sparrows, Cardinals, and woodpeckers would land randomly on the garden fence and fly off in a hurry so other birds could take their place. A couple of robins cocked their heads and listened intently to the ground; then magically yanked and consumed worms from the yard and hopped on to the next buffet item. The blades of grass have turned a dark shade of green. It perfectly contrasts the slow-motion shower of land-bound white cottonwood silk expertly surfing the air currents. I enjoy bearing witness to this hidden domain that is in plain sight, even if I am not directly included in nature’s dance. I know that it will always be ‘their world’ but my contribution too is valued. Even if it is merely to stop, look, listen, and quietly notice ‘them’ once in awhile – uh … before I get the hose and flyswatter out.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

La Historia of May 5th

Traditionally this has always been an interesting day for me. My family has primarily used May 5th as an excuse to go out and enjoy a tasty Mexican meal together. We also liked the day because it doesn’t take lots of preparation or costly debt to enjoy the camaraderie and fun celebration. Basically Cinco de Mayo’s job is to fill the ‘excuse for fun’ void between the end of the school year and Easter with a little Mexican flavor.

The day’s origin in history was anything but fun however. Military units from Spain, Britain and primarily France invaded Mexico in January 1862. Mexico purposefully stopped paying interest payments on their mounting debt so the Europeans came to collect. Soon enough the Spanish and British broke ranks with the French and went home 4 months later. It had become obvious that France had designs on Mexico’s land and natural resources more than its interest in re-payment of debts.

The French had mounted an undefeated army since around 1810. So the 5th of May in 1862 found its way into the annals of history, when the Mexican army took a stand at Puebla, Mexico. The Mexicans soundly repelled the French invasion force of nearly 8000 - double the strength of the defenders. It did not last however as within a year, Mexico City fell and the French occupied their lands. Napoleon III had hoped to establish a Mexican Monarchy patterned after the French model, but beholden to France’s sphere of influence. Continuing guerilla warfare plagued the new government and once America’s Civil War had ended, the now United states turned its collective resources on blockading further French intervention per the long established Monroe Doctrine. Without direct support from France, the failed Monarchists were deposed, and by 1867 Benito Juarez was restored as President of Mexico.

The celebratory nature of the day has always seemed to ring more important with American restaurant owners than with the people of Mexico themselves. Yes, there is no better feeling of pride than being reminded yearly of your ancestors lack of financial responsibility and subsequent impetus for war. Remember to bring your wallet or purse today, if you intend to enjoy the music, good food, and camaraderie of Cinco de Mayo. The costly lessons of history are clear … PAY YOUR DEBTS – because some folks get a little ‘touchy’ when they don’t get paid on time.

Don't ‘kiss off’ Osculation

It’s odd that I have to rely on movies to teach me vocabulary these days. Usually films have words that I have heard before especially when people are mad and cussing at me. But today I saw an old Capra movie, “Arsenic and Old Lace”. This film is adapted from a play in 1944 so maybe that is why it was not automatically ‘scrubbed’ of all challenging language like films of today. At one point in the film, a cabbie remarks ‘his cab has seen a lot of osculation (the act of kissing) before’.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not some snob who wants to watch every movie with a remote ready to pause in one hand and a dictionary in the other. No, general release movies SHOULD be for entertainment first and foremost. But I also don’t think they need to be ‘dumbed down’ or devoid of any positive educational benefits either. What’s wrong with learning a couple of new words along with how to hot wire a car for your two hour investment of time?

I ran into a similar problem at a preschool many years ago. The general philosophy was that kids prior to 5 years of age should have absolutely NO structured learning whatsoever. Their main goal was to learn socialization skills and simply fill time with normal preschool activities like coloring, painting, or playing with others. Absolutely nothing wrong with that EXCEPT, is it too much to ask to color a letter ‘A’ and a picture of an apple instead of random scribbles on white paper. Again, I never expected ‘language’ lessons or rigorous teaching for these youngsters. I just felt the kids might WILLINGLY pick up a few things in their normal activities if given a few prompts from the school.

So even though I had to pull out that dusty dictionary today, I didn’t mind it too much. Any opportunity to learn something … anything, is good for me and hopefully my vocabulary. The key to learning, is to use what you learn in your everyday life and repeat what you learned over and over again. I’m not exactly sure when I will get a chance to repetitively use ‘osculation’ anytime soon – my wife is out of town for a few days!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Hurried Handcuffs

I was driving along a local main drag and across from the gas station in a mini mall of about 6 shops I saw a new business that was open. The name of the shop was Express Police Gear or something like that? The shop looked clean and reminded me of any safety or small janitorial supply retail store.

I did not have the good fortune to get inside yet, but I assume it consists of all that stuff that cops are saddled down with to do their jobs except for firearms and ammo. I think this place probably focuses on the ‘official’ shoes, t-shirts, belt, mace, handcuffs and the like. I have never seen a store like this at all and figured most police departments simply buy gear from ‘official’ mail order vendors or on-line?

It seems like a pretty good idea to have a retail outlet for cop stuff. You never know when you’ll need an extra pair of handcuffs WITHOUT the little release tab of the toy ones. Yes those always come in handy to restrain irritating friends or your kid brother. I guess I could use zip ties but I have the smaller ones so I always need to stick about 10 together if I want to get around something as fat as the wrists of people in my family. Maybe I will go in this cop shop and see how much a can of mace or pepper spray is? I used to keep this stuff handy in the car even if for no other reason than crazy dogs.

I did on one occasion repel a dog with pepper spray. It worked but mostly as a distraction. The dog did not seem incapacitated in any real way, but the smell clearly got him to stop advancing on me and think about his own peppery nose for a minute. That gave me enough time to hurry off and get my toy handcuffs to try and lock up that crazy dog. Ever since then, I have been a fan of pepper spray. Yes I need to visit that Police shop to pick up a case of spicy spray . Cinco de Mayo is just around the corner and my nachos never have enough peppers!

The Double Rainbow

Sometimes timing, nature, and just plain bad luck can throw a wrench in the best formed plans. It can be very disappointing especially when you have made extensive time-sensitive arrangements and mobilized lots of people and resources to help you. Though always frustrating, I have found more often than not, if you allow fate to play out its hand, stay positive, and keep working toward a solution – things, usually will work out.

No I am not a Pollyanna. Bad things do happen to even good people with good intentions. In some ways it is the ‘risky’, daring, unknown parts of life that make it worth living. After all if everything always went smoothly and to plan, our stories and memories would soon lose their definition and verve. Not that I want my plans to fail, but I do personally like feeling the adrenaline of timing a project or appointment, and living life to a tight schedule with little margin for error. I LIKE the responsibility of making the impossible possible, especially if it is on time and under budget.

Now nature too is NO Pollyanna. Nature is more like that disinterested property tax collector that is just doing his job. It is nothing personal. Nature is not for you or against you – but it’s diligent, resourceful, and WILL be paid no matter what. Nature makes and breaks the rules at will and always has home field advantage. Those are the times when you can’t blame yourself or your ‘people’ for bad judgment or poor preparation. All you can do is learn to adjust, move quickly, and make contingencies a reality very smoothly and calmly. Even though you can’t see it, your efforts are seamlessly shifting the odds back to your advantage.

We recently felt the wrath of the weather upon a weekend project as our perfect planning was completely ruined by thunderstorms. I groused and worried for a few minutes, but eventually we adjusted and did something else important that was NOT affected by weather. We also activated our project’s contingency plan, adjusted our resources, and after all that … STILL threw the dice for good measure. Nature amazingly cooperated, everything fell together, and we made it happen, EVEN when our chances seemed dim. Nature graciously sent us a unique reminder, that most of the time, you CAN find success in even the darkest of hours. So the next time life throws you a bit of a curve, keep your chin up … there’s always a chance for success in your future. And if you’re really lucky – that curve will be a double rainbow!

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Compass Rose

You may not be familiar with the term ‘compass rose’ but you have most certainly have seen one on a map in your lifetime. It is basically a depiction of a compass featured on most navigational charts; which always shows at least the cardinal direction points of North, South, East, and West. Today the St. Louis Ninety Nines and about 20 other members of local aviation groups worked all day to paint a 70 foot diameter compass rose on asphalt instead of a map. Yes, students and alumni from St. Louis University’s Park’s college aviation program, as well as members of the St. Louis Women with Wings converged on the airport tarmac in Greenville, Illinois to leave their ‘mark’ literally.

Due to the many ‘points’ on a typical map rose, painting a huge blue and white compass on an active airport takes quite a bit of planning as well an awful lot of logistics and paint. Keeping dozens of people from stepping on each other, or out of the way of moving airplanes, while line-chalking, taping, and painting is the fun part of the organized chaos. Fortunately the host airport in Greenville helped out with the feeding of the crew, and provided the paint, as well as, lots of general support to make the process smooth even if the asphalt WASN’T!

We used about 15 gallons of white paint and 8 gallons of blue traffic marking paint to make our rose. Amazingly for the Midwest, somehow we received the benefits of cloud cover yet did not suffer rain to delay our progress. The world’s largest compass rose ever is located a NASA’s Dryden Flight Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California. That rose is painted on the desert lake bed and is a staggering 4000 feet ( over 3/4 of a mile across) in diameter. Can you imagine the amount of taxpayer paint that is required to lay down that enormous rose some 58 times the basic diameter of ours?

This does not include the fact that NASA’s marked points, though far simpler than our 70 foot rose, represent a lane of paint that is better than 20 feet in width as compared to our 4 inch basic line. By my estimate, that is well over a half million SQUARE FEET of paint just to paint those basic lines, NOT including the numbers. Given our experience, the Dryden rose would require over 13,000 gallons of traffic paint – now that’s what I REALLY call ‘MARKING’ your way up in the world!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The econo-bulb revolution

Light bulbs used to be so simple when I was growing up. When one burned out, you would look at the glassy ball and see if it said 40, 60, 75, or 100 watt. If you had one of the REALLY fancy ones it would have three wattages in one, for 3-way lighting fixtures. Except for bulbs that went in chandeliers, all bulbs had the same type of screw in base and wattages. Life was easy before the bulb revolution.

Now, with the advent of energy savings bulbs and fixtures, ‘Honey Do’s’ are suddenly more complicated. They make those curly bulbs but they have funny numbers like 13, 22, 31 watts. As you can imagine these bulbs approximate the same light output as the old bulbs but only use a third of the energy. That is great except they cost 3 times as much to buy these bulbs in the first place? So if electric is 18 cents a kilowatt I save just over a penny per hour of use but they cost me about $2 more or 200 hours of that savings.

The economic realities of the new light bulbs really extend to the fancier circle fluorescent bulbs or the ‘hidden’ fluorescents that look like a traditional round bulb. These ‘designer’ bulbs claim to last 3 times as long but they are a staggering 5 to 10 times the acquisition cost per bulb. What bugs me more than that is that I have had two of these 5 year bulbs burn out in less than 2 years. Where is my big savings with these things – they may be good for pumping up the hardware store’s economy but they sure aren’t an ‘economy buy’ for me.

Even the chandelier and overhead fan bulbs are all weird these days. Some have pin bases, others have small, medium, and the normal size screw in bases. The minority now are the standard pointy chandelier bulbs. Now it seems round bulbs with the variety of bases are the standard and I even have one fan with those hot little halogen bulbs like you find in track lighting. Wow I wonder if I will have to refinance the house to replace one of those things if it burns out? At least I know my energy saving efforts are helping the econo-bulb revolution – I just wish it didn’t make me so dizzy. Oh sorry, the actual cause of my stupor must be those stupid fan blades. I just can’t take my eyes off of them!

The Garden of EATIN’

It has been some time since we have had a real garden. It is not for trying but between the animals and trees blocking out the sun, it can be a struggle. Last year, we finally quit trying to fight the foliage and simply moved a few tomato cages to the front planter. Why growing crazy vines in the front yard adds to our oddball reputation, at least we got a few cherry tomatoes to eat for a change.

Today we made big strides in bringing our garden back (in the BACK yard that is) and into the light. Basically we built two raised container bed that are 20 inches wide, 8 feet long, and 12 inches deep. I ripped a single sheet of ¾ inch plywood for the sides and used wall stones to brace the ends and hold the container bed walls apart. My wife attached a couple of cedar cross braces to finish off the installation. The hard part of course was moving a yard of soil excavated by hand to fill those boxes. But the good news is that the beds now edge our backyard patio with a full view of the sun.

While most REAL gardeners will laugh at our meager garden, the truth is that it provides quite a bit of space to experiment and grow some fun veggies and herbs. We like eating our own food but never have grown enough volume to can or store food in the off season. We do love to grow our own salsa fixins’ like peppers, green onions, and cilantro. Home gardening is a good stress reliever and once in awhile worthy of a fun story or two. We once grew a 115 pound pumpkin which I cut out from the bottom and wore it as a real GREAT pumpkin head to scare the neighbor kids. We have also grown gourds, dried and painted them, then filled them with BB’s to make our own maracas.

But our garden still is mostly about eating and frankly a chance for a little outdoor exercise in the fresh air and sun. I had better not stray too far from that patio though. Those towering trees will still surely impede my chances at getting a dose of Vitamin D. I’m afraid if that happens too often, my wife will end up putting me out in a cage on the front planter too. Gee, I hope my neighbors don’t stare.